Laviolette says Capitals goaltender competition is wide open… Again: “We have games coming up to get somebody to make their case”
It’s no secret that Washington Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek has struggled in recent games. After posting a strong March that saw him rise to first in the league in most key statistical categories, Vanecek has allowed nine goals on 41 shots for an .820 save percentage in his last two starts. . Vanecek has also seen a significant increase in rebound attempts against him in recent games.
In Vanecek’s defense, the sudden downturn came against two of the league’s top teams, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Minnesota Wild. Either way, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette expects Vanecek to return to his March form. In the meantime, it seems that Laviolette has (re)opened the door to competition for the team’s starting goalies.
“I think there are ups and downs in everyone’s career, and there are definitely ups and downs in a player’s season,” Laviolette said after training for the Monday team.
“I just spoke with Vitek yesterday, we are looking for him to come back, connected to where he was. He was really good and very strong for us for a long time, almost from January 1. In the games he won when he wasn’t injured, he did a really good job in goal.
Laviolette also told the media Monday that both goaltenders will get ice time in the final 13 games of the regular season and that he hopes one of them will grab the reins before the playoffs start.
“We have games coming up to inspire someone to make the case. They will both likely continue to have games. said Laviolette.
“It has always been a two-team tandem. I’m looking for someone to step out of this two-team tandem and be the guy who catches it and grabs the crease and keeps it,” Laviolette added.
“I think it’s important. I would like to have a guy who emerged, come out of this group. They’re both good goalkeepers, but you really want someone to grab them. There is an opportunity for them here.
For the season, Vanecek is 17-11-5 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 36 appearances. Ilya Samsonov is 19-9-4 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .899 save percentage, also in 36 appearances.
It’s unclear who will get the start in goal for the Capitals when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, but it’s very likely Ilya Samsonov’s turn. Then the two goaltenders will likely split the Capitals’ weekend morning series against the Penguins on Saturday in Pittsburgh and the Boston Bruins on Sunday in Washington.
By Jon Sorensen