The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off a very good week heading into Thursday’s action against the Chicago Blackhawks. The team is 15-4-1 and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy hasn’t allowed a goal against in over 200 minutes.
The netminder’s active shutout streak of 200:45 is the longest of his career and just two minutes and one second behind John Grahame’s franchise record.
“You can see that confidence…The thing that has grown the most is the way he can calm himself during a game. It takes reps to do that, and he came into some huge situations at such a young time in his career,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “To watch his growth, it’s just awesome to see.”
Vasilevskiy’s previous scoreless streak stood at 184 minutes and 49 seconds three seasons ago and he’s just the 70th goalie to surpass 200 scoreless minutes.
For Tampa, goaltending is leading the way. Vasilevskiy is 13-3-1 in 17 starts this season, with a .942 save percentage and a 1.65 goals against average. Along with three straight shutouts, Vasilevskiy’s coughed up a goal or less in nine of those 17 starts.
Tampa is coming off a 7-0 walloping of the Dallas Stars ahead of three matchups against Chicago. Previously, the Lightning tangled with the Carolina Hurricanes across four games and won three.
Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman are tied for the squad scoring lead with 20 points in 20 games. Stamkos has 10 goals and 10 helpers to Hedman’s four goals and 16 assists. Brayden Point rounds out the top three Lightning scorers with seven goals and a dozen assists.
Still, the Blackhawks could be a challenge.
Chicago has come a long way since giving up 10 goals in two games to Tampa to kick off the season. They posted a .857 save percentage against the Lightning during that run, but they’ve since improved to a .921 – the fourth-best save percentage in the NHL.
Tampa, it goes without saying, is one of the three teams better than Chicago in save percentage. And their points percentage of .775 puts them in charge of the Central Division.
But this series, potentially a playoff preview, sets the stage for what’s to come. If Vasilevskiy maintains his stellar play, this run could lay the foundation for another Stanley Cup for the Tampa Bay Lightning.