Tampa Bay’s lauded goalie depth is about to be tested.
After No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop was hurt during Monday’s loss to Pittsburgh, the Bolts recalled Andrei Vasilevskiy — their first-round pick (19th overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — up from AHL Syracuse.
Vasilevskiy, regarded as one of the best goalie prospects in the world, is coming off a week with the Crunch in which he posted back-to-back shutouts and was named the league’s player of the week. He, along with Latvian Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis, give the Lightning one of the best young AHL tandems in the NHL — Vasilevskiy turned 20 in June, while Gudlevskis turned 22 in July.
Tampa Bay has a busy stretch coming up and appears to be preparing as though Bishop won’t be available. The club has three road games in five nights beginning with tonight’s tilt in Philadelphia; on Friday and Saturday, the Bolts play a back-to-back set in New Jersey and Long Island, and it’s possible Vasilevsky could make his season debut in one of those games.
Veteran Evgeni Nabokov will inherit starting duties while Bishop — who currently sits tied for fourth in the NHL in wins, with 16 — remains sidelined with a lower-body ailment.