Frustrated Tampa goalie says he needs X-ray glasses to stop Toronto Maple Leafs
With his team down 3-1 in the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is frustrated.
After appearing in the last three Stanley Cup Finals (and winning two of them), the Conn Smythe recipient has not been himself against the Toronto Maple Leafs, putting up a .856 SV% and 4.33 GAA.
On Tuesday, the Russian netminder was asked about seeing through the Leafs' screens and his ability (or inability) to track pucks. When asked how he thinks he could be better, Vasilevskiy told one reporter he'd need to "buy myself like f**king x-ray glasses."
The 28-year-old Vezina winner says the series result so far is a mixture of the Leafs capitalizing on opportunities and bad puck luck for the Lightning.
"I'm 100% sure that it’s the game plan for them and so far they've been executing that plan very well," Vasilevskiy said. "Lots of screens, tips, deflections. We didn't get much luck on tips and bounces as well."
While the two teams faced off in a best-of-seven last year, Vasilevskiy says Toronto's game has changed.
"Last year they played more skilled hockey," he added. "This year they are playing more playoff hockey to score those… I don't want to say garbage goals… but [greasy] goals."
Earlier this week, Tampa's former assistant coach Derek Lalonde went on TV and exposed one of the goalie's weaknesses: tracking shots from the point.
"We did a study… he was one of the lower-percentage goalies in finding pucks from the point… we changed our entire Dzone [coverage]," Lalonde explained.
Incredible info from Derek Lalonde (fmr TBL asst coach) on Vasilevskiy's weakness:— Jack Han (@JhanHky) April 25, 2023
"We did a study...he was one of the lower-percentage goalies in finding pucks from the point...we changed our entire Dzone (coverage)." pic.twitter.com/xNOE1TbiYB
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was asked about Lalonde's comments when talking to reporters on Tuesday. Cooper dismissed them as fabricated.
"Sportsnet is paying him well to go give an opinion, so he's got to make something up about that kind of stuff," Cooper said. "He's there because he was an assistant coach on this team, so he's trying to offer insight and trying to give the fans something, and so he should be doing that."
The head coach also came to his starting goalie's defence.
"If I look through this series, the [Mitch] Marner goal in Game 2, he for sure wants to have back," Cooper said. "But then after that, realistically, what are we saying he’s done wrong other than make all the saves he's supposed to?"
After pointing to multiple examples of "tips" and deflection goals, Cooper said, "No goalie in the league, take any goalie, take the best goalies in the history of the game. They're not stopping any of those."
Puck drop for Game 5 is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Scotiabank Arena.
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