(Denver) Game 1 unusual sight: Andrei Vasilevskiy, widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, passed two Christmas trees early in the match.
Posted at 16:29
Not to mention a very thin shot from Valeri Nichushkin, hitting the post. A high shot, from the side of the blocker, where the goalkeeper has scored 20 of his 43 goals since the start of the playoffs, according to Sportlogiq.
I mean, he seemed to be going fast for the Lightning keeper. Dan Rosen of the NHL. com, then reminded us that it was the first time in his career, in 94 playoff appearances, that the Russian conceded three goals in the first period.
But Vasilevskiy then regained his brilliance, blocking the next 22 shots before succumbing to a powerful shot from Andre Burakovsky in extra time.
This was further proof that Jon Cooper’s patience with his goalkeeper has its virtues. It must be said that he has an extraordinary player in his hands, whose athletic qualities make many garage league goalkeepers mouth water. Except perhaps NHL.com colleague Guillaume Lepage who, at 6’4, can at least claim to be taller than number 88.
But Cooper is used to letting his keeper orient himself. In the season, Vasilevskiy withdrew from a game only 10 times in 355 starts (2.8% of his games). Only Carey Price (2.1%) has been replaced less often since Vasilevskiy joined the NHL.
In series? Only once in 93 does it start. It was May 11, 2018, Game 2 of a series against the Washington Capitals, eventual Stanley Cup champions that year. After two bouts, it was 4-0 Washington and Vasilevskiy had surrendered four times out of 25 shots. Louis Domingue replaced him.
Since then, no goalkeeper other than Vasilevskiy has played a single minute in the playoffs for the Lightning. So here he is at 76 as a starter in a row where his auxiliary – now Brian Elliott – remained well seated on the bench. During that streak, he’s 49-27 with a save percentage of 2.17 GAA and 0.925.
Cooper knows the statistics. “How many times have I taken Vasi out of a game in four years? Maybe once. I strongly believe in letting your keeper off the hook. There must be trust, communication with the goalkeeper, but Vasi and fewer have been together for eight years.
Clearly I’m not a coach who gets off the hook fast. If it’s really a massacre, I’ll take out my guardian to preserve his trust, but it hasn’t happened often to us. I trust our goalkeepers.
“I want to stay on the net until the end with the guys, regardless of the score, and keep fighting,” Vasilevskiy explained to us on Tuesday during media day. Anything is possible in hockey, especially in the playoffs. You can take a lucky jump, a power play and that changes the game. So I want to stay until the end. ”
For the only time in the final, there are two days of rest between two games, something to the delight of Jon Cooper, who was thinking of Brayden Point and Brandon Hagel. The former returned to the field on Wednesday after a month’s absence, while the latter represented an uncertain case all day before playing. “It will do them good,” he said. For his team, however, this extra day extends the duration of this trip. “We arrived two days early, which makes it a six-day trip for two games, he reminded him. But that’s okay, I’m not complaining, we just had to score more points this season to have the advantage of the ice. ”
It was free time for practice, but the injured Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano were skating for Avalanche. We do not yet know their possible return date.
If Bednar met with the media at the Ball Arena, Cooper did so via video conference, which raised some complaints from some colleagues. It must be said that the contradiction with Wednesday was surprising. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman began his press conference by noting that life was slowly returning to normal after two years of the pandemic. “I can talk to you and answer your questions in person,” Bettman recalled.