Vassilevski does not miss many chances to eliminate opponents

The Wraparound is your daily look at the playoffs for the 2022 Stanley Cup. Today we will break the NHL playoffs with the most important television information.

• Lightning enters Game 6 on Saturday night with just one win from a third straight trip to the Stanley Cup final.

• Bruins’ path is likely to be dictated by David Pastrnak’s contractual situation.

• The Panthers should not overreact to their performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With another victory, Tampa Bay Lightning will return to the Stanley Cup final for the third consecutive season and for the fourth time in the last seven seasons.

They enter Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night with a 3-2 lead over the New York Rangers after winning three straight games. This was a combination of taking on the top line of Lightning, as well as Andrei Vassilevski, who conceded only four goals in matches 3-5 of the series.

If the latest story is a landmark, Vassilevski is really starting to shine here.

Vassilevski has been one of the constants for the Lightning for the past three seasons, playing every minute for the team in the post-season. Although his totals are sensational and have helped strengthen his status among the greats of all time, he really takes on just when he has a chance to pull an opponent out of the playoffs. He is as automatic in these games as any NHL player can be.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

From the beginning of the 2019-20 postseason, Vassilevski and the Lightning played in 15 games in which they had a chance to eliminate an opponent.

Vassilevski’s record in these matches is 10-5 (only one of these losses comes in the regulations; the other four in overtime) with .951 percent save and a huge six stops.

For his career, he has a 0.944 percent save in 22 games where Lightning have a chance to eliminate an opponent. In 15 of these matches he has conceded two or fewer goals. He has conceded one or fewer goals in 10 games.

What is perhaps even more stunning is that in his career he has actually lost three potential knockout matches in which he conceded just two goals and had a save rate above .940. In the aforementioned four overtime losses, he conceded just two goals in the regular season. In 22 potential knockout matches in his career, he has conceded three goals in the regulations only three times. So even when he doesn’t actually win, he’s still almost invincible in this type of game.

This is bad news for the Rangers, who have struggled to generate a consistent attack in this series in the last three games.

Vassilevski not only returned from an unstable start in Games 1-2, but their Lightning also put a pinch in defense in Games 3-5 of the series.

With the victory in Game 5 of Tampa Bay, for example, the Rangers generated only five high-risk chances (in all situations) for the entire match, with only one of them coming after the first period.

For these three matches, the overall chances of a high-risk goal are 53-26 in favor of Lightning (67%), while the expected goals are 13.01-7.38 in favor of Lightning (64%).

In terms of goal chances and expected goals, Lightning doubled the Rangers across the board. This kind of game will not be good enough to beat Lightning and Vassilevski in any match, let alone elimination. Lightning have not only been the best team in the league for the last seven years, but have also developed the ability to close teams when they have the opportunity.

Add to that the fact that Saturday’s game is in Tampa Bay, where Lightning are 6-1 this postseason and it will take incredible effort from the Rangers, probably their best from the postseason so far to make match 7.

NHL 2022 Playoff Schedule: Eastern Conference Final

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (TB leads 3-2)

Game 1 – Rangers 6, Lightning 2
Game 2 – Rangers 3, Lightning 2
Game 3 – Lightning 3, Rangers 2
Game 4 – Lightning 4, Rangers 1
Game 5 – Lightning 3, Rangers 1
Game June 6 – 11: Rangers in Lightning, 20:00 ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
* Match June 7 – 14: Lightning in Rangers, 20:00 ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)

* If necessary

Adam Gretz is a writer for Professional hockey speaks on NBC Sports. Connect it with him [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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