It was hard to imagine Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy outperforming his effort from the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
And yet, he did. As the Lightning struck twice, winning the Cup for the third time in franchise history and becoming the second team in the cap era to win consecutive Cups (Pittsburgh being the other), Vasilevskiy took home the coveted Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the player determined to have had the best playoff performance as voted upon by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
A year ago, Vasilevskiy put on one heck of a performance, had a .927 save percentage, 1.90 goals-against average and an 18-7-0 record. But he somehow upped the stakes with a 16-7-0 record to go along with five shutouts.
When the going got tough, Vasilevskiy delivered. In four of his five shutouts, they came after tight losses. He had a donut in all four series-clinching games. Despite Nikita Kucherov recording over 30 points in the playoffs, it’s hard to argue against Vasilevskiy winning the title.
Even on Vasilevskiy’s worst nights, he was rarely the cause for Tampa Bay’s failures. But when the Lightning needed him at his best the most, Vasilevskiy proved once again why he’s one of the best goaltenders of his generation. He’s a week removed from losing the Vezina Trophy to Marc-Andre Fleury, but the league’s top goaltender in 2019 had yet another legendary season to help make Tampa a champion once more.
Vasilevskiy is just 26. In his career, he has won gold with Russia at the World Championship in 2014, took the top goaltender award three years later, played in three NHL all-star games and, of course, won a Vezina and a Stanley Cup and was named to the NHL’s first all-star team in 2019. Unlike most elite NHL goaltenders, he hasn’t fallen into a rut in his career yet. Vasilevskiy has led the league in wins the past four years and only seems to get better every season.
And now, he adds a Conn Smythe to his already impressive trophy case. The legend continues.