Breaking down the Price, Vasilevskiy matchup

What to look for from both goaltenders tonight in Game #3

The 2021 Stanley Cup Final is providing NHL fans with the rare chance to watch two of the league’s best goaltenders in action on the biggest stage. Andrei Vasilevskiy vs. Carey Price — a finals matchup we would have never seen if not for the pandemic prompted realignment. Below, I’ll break down some subtle differences between the two goaltenders to look out for as the series progresses.


Skill Set 

Advantage Vasilevskiy: He’s 6’3” but he moves like he’s 5’10”. Agile, athletic, powerful, technically sound — Vasilevskiy has it all. This was of course on display in Game #2, when the Russian netminder saved 42 out of 43 shots. Perhaps the most impressive part of Vasilevskiy’s game is his ability to control his body. He’s aggressive when the situation calls for it, but he avoids unnecessary extra movement.

Technique

Advantage Price: Both goaltenders have elite technical skill sets, but Carey Price might just be the most technically sound goaltender in the world. Crisp, smooth crease movements, sharp play around the posts and — perhaps most importantly — his ability to find pucks around screens give him the edge over Vasilevskiy in this category. As we saw in Games # 1 and #2, Vasilevskiy does lose sight of the puck in traffic at times. Price’s puck tracking behind screens has been a key component of Montreal’s unflappable penalty kill during the playoffs.

Game Management

Advantage Price: Carey Price is unflappable and calm, while Vasilevskiy has — albeit brief — mental lapses at times. We saw this in Game #1, when he fumbled a dump in from the red line. Price, however, is an anomaly in this category. He rarely loses his cool or looks nervous in between the pipes.

Big Time Saves

Advantage Vasilevskiy: The Tampa Bay netminder shows his nerves at times — but this is an advantage when it comes to breakaways and important saves. Vasilevskiy is so emotionally engaged in the game that he steps up in the important moments time and time again. Recently, his Game #1 breakaway save on Shea Weber after the Lightning took a 2-0 lead comes to mind. Vasilevskiy has an 82.8 save percentage on “high danger unblocked shot attempts,” while Price’s is 78.3%.

Overall

Advantage Vasilevskiy: It’s easy to say that Vasilevskiy has the advantage after Games #1 and #2, but the truth is, these two goaltenders are more similar than people think. Vasilevskiy is the defending Stanley Cup champion and nearly won the Verona Trophy as the league’s best goaltender, but we expect Price to come out with a strong performance tonight in Game #3.