TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – He has the most wins in the National Hockey League this season with 30 of them.
He has the fourth best goals against average and the second highest save percentage amongst goaltenders with 30 or more starts.
Yes, Andrei Vasilevskiy is elite but why has he not played in two games?
The answer, according to the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, is simple.
“I just think that having guys in the best physical and mental condition going into the playoffs is the best thing for everybody,” said Jon Cooper, “so whether it is your goaltender or your defensemen or your forwards or whoever it is you do what is best for them.”
Cooper decided to rest Vasilevskiy in the back to back games against the Detroit Red Wings, which the teams split over the weekend.
Although the Lightning have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, they still sit in third place in the division, two points behind the Florida Panthers and six points behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We have been in these situations before,” added Cooper, “and, as I said, the reason you try to make the playoffs early is so you can put yourself in a position where you do not have to grind your way out and you can put yourself in a position to make some decisions like this and it is all about trying to make your team be in the best possible position both physically and mentally for the playoffs and that is what we are trying to do. Whether it works out or not, players still got to play the games, coaches still have to coach the games but we do not want there to be any excuses for us and we are trying to do what is best. This was the plan for quite some time now.”
Vasilevskiy is expected to start in the game against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday at Amalie Arena.