TAMPA — By its very nature, excellence is supposed to be rare. Glory is meant to be uncommon.
Yet, around here, it is an expected part of the landscape.
You say Victor Hedman had a turnover in the neutral zone and Florida’s Maxim Mamin is racing straight at the Lightning goal with open ice in front of him?
No problem, Vasy will stop him.
You say the back door is wide open for Sam Reinhart after a cross-ice pass from Sam Bennett?
Don’t worry, Vasy will get it.
Pardon me for asking, but have we grown immune to the wonder of Andrei Vasilevskiy? Have we become spoiled by his otherworldly reflexes and indescribable instincts?
Is it really fair to expect greatness as the base level of performance?
Apparently, not when it comes to Tampa Bay’s goaltender. The cheering starts early at Amalie Arena with Vasilevskiy getting the loudest ovation when players are introduced. And the chanting of his name begins in earnest midway through the first period when he makes a pair of saves in a scoreless game.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a stop on Panthers center Sam Reinhart during the first period. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
“He makes the stop when you need it,” said Lightning forward Nick Paul. “You know, a tight game, he makes it somehow and it just puts the wind in our sail.”
That, it did. Although Tampa Bay eventually romped…