(Tampa) Tampa Bay Lightning star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy isn’t sure if the heavy workload he’s been given the past four seasons is to blame. But in the second half of the season, he felt like his body had let him down.

And he thinks he knows why.

“My mistake was not paying attention to my recovery,” Vasilevskiy said Tuesday, three days after the Lightning were eliminated by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“The first 30, 35 games, I felt like normal. But afterwards, my body and I were no longer on the same wavelength. All these little injuries happened at the same time. These are good lessons, a new experience. This season has shown me that I have to be smarter on this point. If I want to do most of the work, I have to recover better. »

Vasilevskiy started all 71 of the Lightning’s playoff games in the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup titles, in addition to the Finals loss to the Colorado Avalanche last year. He’s gone 34-22-4 in 60 games this season, but has lost 12 of his last 20 outings.

“We’ll see next year if it was related to too many games or something else. »

His goals-against-average (2.65) and save percentage (.915) this season were his worst since the 2015-16 season.

“Is it going to have an impact at some point?” Absolutely, head coach Jon Cooper said of his goalkeeper’s workload. Maybe he’s a little too hard on himself. With a few months off, his body will heal. He is still a young man and he keeps himself in excellent shape. But the head must also rest and I believe that it is this mental aspect that will benefit the most. »

The 28-year-old Vasilevskiy plans to rest for the next five to seven weeks.

“It will give me more time to prepare my head and my body for the next campaign,” he noted. Something we haven’t had in the past few years. I don’t like taking a long break, but I realize I need one. I will have to manage that better next season. »