NHL: Cooper praises exceptional Vasilevskiy

25 November 2021 22:13:22 GMTPlus11
Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded a shoutout

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper says he wouldn't swap netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy for anyone after the Russian secured his first shutout of the season in the 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

The Lightning, 7/1 to three-peat as Stanley Cup champions, have gone 9-1-2 in their past 12 games and 11-4-3 over the season so far.

Vasilevskiy key for Lightning

Twenty-seven-year-old Vasilevskiy has started 15 times recording nine wins, a .924 save-percentage and 2.22 goals-against-average (GAA).

The 6'3" goalie was selected in the first- round (19th overall) by the Lightning in the 2012 NHL draft and he made his NHL debut in 2014, while since the 2016/17 season has been Cooper's bona fide number-one.

There's nobody you'd rather have back there than him.

Jon Cooper

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Aside from winning back-to-back Stanley Cups, Vasilevskiy has also won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best netminder in 2018/19 and was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the play-offs' most valuable player in 2020/21.

Over 317 NHL regular season games (307 starts) Vasilevskiy has 199 wins, a .920 save-percentage and 2.49 GAA. In 81 play-off appearances (76 starts), he has 49 victories, a .924 save-percentage and 2.24 GAA.

Cooper hails "exceptional" talent

Cooper, who signed a three-year contract extension with the Lightning in the off-season, said about Vasilevskiy: "Goalies are so hard to read when they're young kids and you don't know how they're going to develop.

"Not only does he look after himself, his body, he knows exactly what he needs to do. But the mental side of things for him, that's what's come so far.

"There's nobody you'd rather have back there than him. He's exceptional."

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