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Keeping Andrei Vasilevskiy in top form a top priority for Lightning

With the goaltender expected to represent Russia in the Olympics in February, managing his minutes will be crucial to Tampa Bay’s success.
Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy might be the No. 1 reason the Lightning can be confident they can win three straight Stanley Cups.
Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy might be the No. 1 reason the Lightning can be confident they can win three straight Stanley Cups. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Sep. 23
Updated Sep. 23

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has shouldered a remarkable load in goal over the past two seasons. Now, coming off a short offseason and the likelihood he’ll also represent Russia in the Olympics in February, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner could use some load management.

“He understands that our priority is to make sure that he’s at his best and, specifically, at his best when it matters most,” Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said. “And he was able to do that the last few years and we just need to manage these minutes to make sure that that’s the case again this season.”

Vasilevskiy might be the No. 1 reason why the Lightning can be confident they can win three straight. Forward Alex Killorn told a group of fans at an event last week, “As long as we’ve got (No.) 88 between the pipes, we’re in good shape.”

“I’ve played a lot of hockey,” Vasilevskiy said. “The rest, it has to be a big part of the upcoming season. The offseason was super short, and the (offseason) before was super short. We’ll try to manage that. It doesn’t mean I’ll work less than usual. We’ll just try to play it smart.”

BriseBois said signing veteran Brian Elliott, who has averaged 37 starts the past seven years, to be Vasilevskiy’s backup, “brings us great comfort” he can help shoulder the load.

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