Vitek Vanecek Impressing In Rookie Season With Capitals

Photograph: NHL by way of Getty Photos

When Henrik Lundqvist introduced that he would endure an open coronary heart process on December 17, questions swirled across the Washington Capitals as goaltender Ilya Samsonov was set to enter his first season on the high of the depth chart with no expertise as a high NHL netminder.

The Capitals signed Craig Anderson to an expert tryout however needed to provide Vitek Vanecek, who they traded as much as choose forty sixth general within the 2014 NHL Draft to pick out, a crack after he spent six years within the crew’s farm system.

Vanecek confirmed promise in his NHL debut on January 15, when he made 30 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Two days after Vanecek allowed 5 objectives on 30 photographs in his subsequent begin, Samsonov examined optimistic for COVID-19 and missed the Capitals’ subsequent eight video games earlier than being despatched to the AHL’s Hershey Bears on a conditioning stint. Vanecek would take over because the No. 1 for the primary time in his profession after simply two video games of NHL expertise.

The 25-year-old impressed with captain Alex Ovechkin, heart Evgeny Kuznetsov, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov out of the lineup, going 4-0-1 with a .923 save proportion and a 2.71 goals-against common in his subsequent 5 video games regardless of dealing with a mean of 35.2 shots-per-game (the sixth-most within the NHL over that span). Vanecek was named the NHL’s rookie of the month in January.

The Capitals went on a season-long four-game regulation shedding streak after a 6-0-3 begin to the season however are 14-2-1 since. Over that point, Vanecek has improved as he has gone 8-2-1 with a .923 save proportion (seventh amongst goaltenders who’ve performed not less than 10 video games) and a 2.06 goals-against common (fifth) after making 32 saves in a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Friday, a sport he arguably stole for the Capitals. He earned the primary shutout of his NHL profession on March 15, when he made 23 saves in a 6-0 win over the Sabres.

Total this season, Vanecek has gone 13-5-3 (tied for fourth in wins, and first amongst rookie goaltenders) with a .911 save proportion and a 2.66 goals-against common. His 23 video games performed this season trails Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche by solely two for the league lead.

At five-on-five this season, Vanecek has posted a .925 save proportion, a 2.24 goals-against common, a 3.41 goals-saved above common, a .828 high-danger save proportion, a 1.15 high-danger goals-against common, and a 0.70 high-danger goals-saved above common. Although, he has recorded a .835 save proportion, a 7.07 goals-against common, a -1.56 goals-saved above common, a .793 high-danger save proportion, a 3.26 high-danger goals-against common, and a 1.50 high-danger goals-saved above common whereas shorthanded. In response to MoneyPuck, Vanecek has recorded a .951 save proportion on unblocked photographs and 0.04 rebounds-per-save.

Vanecek has had an excellent rookie season and needs to be among the many contenders for the Calder Trophy because the NHL’s rookie of the 12 months. Nonetheless, he must proceed his sturdy play to maintain the crease as Samsonov is 5-0-0 with a .921 save proportion and a 2.22 goals-against common since coming back from COVID-19 protocol.

It is going to be essential for the Capitals to have each of their goalies taking part in their finest hockey down the stretch, so Vanecek must proceed to reply the bell when referred to as upon. The excellent news for him is that he ought to get his justifiable share of relaxation with the Capitals boasting two stable netminders. With all that he has gone via up to now this season, there needs to be a number of confidence in Vanecek to carry out when wanted. He has actually performed a superb job of silencing the critics who questioned the Capitals’ goaltending depth.

Vanecek has handed each check he has confronted up to now, so there needs to be loads of confidence because the postseason approaches. Vanecek might also have a leg up on Samsonov as he has confirmed that he can take an enormous workload, one thing Samsonov has but to show.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a ardour for sports activities writing. He attended his first sport at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder because the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps reminiscence was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys journey, pictures, and hanging out together with his two canines. Comply with Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077

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