Vasilevskiy feels great after first practice
After a tedious two months of slow rehab, Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was pumped Monday to participate in his first practice since early September surgery to remove a blood clot.
"So excited," he said. "I feel great."
Vasilevskiy faced shots for the first time, splitting time with backup Kristers Gudlevskis at the Ice Zone complex in St. Louis. He said he could track and feel the puck the same as he did last season.
"Maybe guys shoot not really hard on me," he joked.
Vasilevskiy said his conditioning is great - "I think I can run a marathon right now" - but will need at least another practice and 1-2 games with AHL Syracuse before resuming his role as Ben Bishop's backup. There's nothing finalized on that yet, the Crunch plays Wednesday in Toronto and Friday at home. Could Vasilevskiy make his season debut Sunday in Carolina?
"Hope so," Vasilevskiy said, smiling. "Why not?"
Vasilevskiy spent the previous month or so with the same boring routine, 40 minutes on the ice, 40 minutes of cardio and in the gym, a lot of cardio and bike work. Meanwhile, he missed camp and the first month of the season.
The most difficult part was mentally, with Vasilevskiy crediting his wife for helping him, as well as former Lightning goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who reached out.
"That two months was terrible for me," Vasilevskiy said. "A lot of the same routine every day, and it's tough mentally. Because guys go on the road and play games and you just watch on TV and sit at home. Right now, it's in the past."
More from today's skate: C Brian Boyle, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, returned to practice and could play Tuesday against the Blues. C Cedric Paquette did not practice due to body maintenance... St. Louis is banged-up, without D Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and C Paul Stastny (broken foot). G Brian Elliott, who stole a 2-1 victory over the Lightning in St. Louis with 30 saves, is sick, so G Jake Allen will be in net... G Ben Bishop is expected to start against his hometown Blues.