Andrei Vasilevskiy has flourished in his first full season as the Lightning's No. 1 goaltender, becoming a Vezina Trophy favorite and first-time All-Star. The 23-year-old Russian has been through a lot since getting picked in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft, including getting thrust into unexpected starts in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and 2016 Eastern Conference Finals.
Each of the Lightning All-Stars was asked to discuss his biggest influence, the best and worst moments of his career. Here's Andrei Vasilevskiy's, in his own words:
My dad, Andrei Sr., was a big impact. When I was younger, he was my coach for two years when I played on a junior team. We didn't talk too much about technical stuff or bad goals. We just talked about mentally how I have to prepare for games and how it's a long season. He played goalie, he knew the system and how it works, what works in a goalie's mind. Especially during tough situations, he'll try to help.
My brother Alexei, he's not a goalie, he's a defenseman playing in the KHL. He was a big example for me, he's a year older. Six, seven years ago, he was on the Russian junior national team and I wanted to be like him. He was the first in our family to make Team Russia.
I started out as a forward. I was a center, a right shot. A big shot (just kidding). When I was 9 years old, my dad said I told him that I didn't want to run around on the ice, I didn't want to skate, just wanted to stay in the goal and make the saves. Now I realize that there's more movement, more responsibility in net. That probably wasn't a good idea. But I'm here, so I did everything right.
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All my best moments have happened here in the National Hockey League. My first game in Philly. And the playoffs, for sure, are the biggest memories.
The Cup Final against Chicago (in 2014-15), I got to start. That was wild. I was young and had a lot of thoughts in my head during that game. If had known things that I know now two years ago, I think I would have won that game. We lost that game in Chicago.
I found out I was starting at the pre-game skate. 'Bish (Ben Bishop) told me. I'm like, 'Okay, I didn't play for two months, I'll take it.' Cup Final. No pressure. The experience of a lifetime.
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My worst moments are probably those tough stretches like last year and this year, probably the last couple games. Last year was the worst one. It was just embarrassing. We lost like 10 games or so. The worst thing is that I tried to do everything right, and when you just keep doing what you're doing and you just can't stop the puck … It's just one of those stretches you can't control.
That was probably the worst moment of my life last year. The big lesson is that, after good games, you can't think, 'Oh because I won last game, I will for sure win the next game, it's going to be easy.' No, it doesn't work like that in the NHL. It was a big lesson.