Even without the best goaltender in its history, general manager Steve Yzerman thinks the Tampa Bay Lightning can make the playoffs.
On the morning after trading Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, Yzerman said the post-season remains a goal.
“We’re still trying to make the playoffs,” Yzerman said. “This tandem (goaltenders Andrei Vasilevskiy and Peter Bukaj) gives us a chance to win every night.”
Yzerman said his choice was this trade or to sit tight until the end of the season. He said one reason he made it now was to afford to pay off performance clauses of the young players.
That puts the team’s goaltending in the hands of Vasilevskiy, who Yzerman thinks will be a good one.
“To me, it’s more than a leap of faith,” Yzerman said. “I believe time will tell. I think he has all the tools to be an excellent starting goaltender for a long time. He’s going to be a very good starter. It’s the hardest position to play. There are ups and downs for every player. I think he has the desire and the fortitude to ride those downs out.”
At any rate, the immediate future belongs to Vasilevskiy, who is 11-13-5. The Bolts have won only one of his last eight starts (three overtimes).
Yzerman said the expectations are still high.
“Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup,” he said, “whether that’s this year, next year or two years from now.”