clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Get To Know a Bolt: Andrei Vasilevskiy

New, comments

As part of the build-up to the third-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Lightning, Japers’ Rink will be looking at some of the important Bolts players and how they might impact the series.

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Five Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Andrei Vasilevskiy

#88 | Goalie

Height: 6’3” | Weight: 207 | Born: July 25, 1994

Birthplace: Tyumen, Russia | Acquired: Drafted by Tampa Bay in 2012.

Assets: Has great size for the goaltending position (6’3”, 207), so he covers a ton of net naturally. Can make spectacular saves look routine. His legs are strong, so his push from side to side is excellent.

Flaws: Needs to do a better job of battling through traffic to see the puck, and he generally needs to become more accustomed to the North American game, in order to maximize output in the NHL.

Career Potential: Big, talented goaltender with good upside.

(Via The Hockey News)

Via HockeyViz

Why You Should Know Who He Is:

Well, it’s always wise to know thine enemy.

But beyond that, Vasilevskiy spent the better part of this year stonewalling foolish foes behind a formidable Bolts blueline, earning himself the honor of Vezina Trophy finalist (along with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck) in the process.

And his regular season stats seem to bear that out for the most part. Ol’ V for Vendetta led the NHL in both shutouts (8) and wins (44) this year. Of course, those are perhaps the two goalie stats least indicative of a goalie’s individual performance, but I digress.

The simple fact of the matter is this: Vasilevskiy led the Lightning to the best record in the Eastern Conference by playing the fourth-most minutes in the NHL, and he now has them just four wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals.

How The Caps Can Stop Him:

So, here’s the thing, and this is going to sound insane.

But I don’t think Vasilevskiy is that good.

As I mentioned above, he had two NHL-best stats (shutouts and wins). But if you dig in from there, he starts to look somewhat suspect.

He did play the fourth-most minutes of any goalie in the league, but he also allowed the fifth-most goals against (167), so it’s not like he was impregnable in those appearances. And despite leading the NHL in shutouts and wins, he was not among the top 10 in GAA (2.62) or SV% (.920).

So far this postseason (and let’s be real for real, things change in the playoffs), Vailevskiy has been excellent at not letting in soft goals. His low-danger save percentage this postseason is 98.23%, good for third among all playoff goalies and better than Braden Holtby’s 98.17%. That means junk goals aren’t likely against Big V. But his high-danger save percentage is 83.3%, putting him just fourth among eight starting goalies in the Eastern Conference.

But here’s the delicious dry rub where the Capitals can take advantage: Vasilevskiy struggles mightily on the penalty kill.

The Lightning have spent the least time on the penalty kill of any remaining playoff team (46.37 minutes). However, when they are on the PK, our friend Drei isn’t exactly doing them any favors. His PK save percentage is a very pedestrian 86.67%, which puts him just 9th out of 16 starting playoff goalies. And his high-danger save percentage on the PK, of which the Capitals will hope to get plenty of chances, is a paltry 66.67%, good for 12th out of 16 starting playoff goalies.

TBL shots allowed 5-on-5 via HockeyViz
TBL shots allowed 5-on-4 via HockeyViz

What’s more, as the above heat maps of the Lightning’s 5-on-5 shots allowed and penalty kill shots allowed respectively show, Tampa Bay doesn’t allow many shots from Ovechkin’s Office™ or from right in front of the crease. However, the mid-to-high slot is wiiiiiiiide open. That may be an excellent, juicy opportunity for slot demons like Brett Connolly and T.J. Oshie to rip Ol’ Vasectomy a new one.

I’m sorry, that’s Vasilevskiy.