Todd Reirden announced that Vitek Vanecek will backup Braden Holtby and take the net in the third period of the Capitals’ exhibition game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Wednesday. Reirden is giving the opportunity to Vanceck over veteran Pheonix Copley, who backed up Holtby for the entirety of the 2018-19 season before losing the job to Ilya Samsonov at the start of the season.
Vanecek’s “in a good spot” to be the backup during the playoffs, Reirden said.
Head coach Todd Reirden spoke with media ahead of #CapsCanes today, providing updates on the current roster and what to expect for the exhibition match. #ALLCAPS | @CareFirst pic.twitter.com/LYUBo6x22H
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 29, 2020
“It’s something we spent a lot of time on as a staff,” Reirden said. “I’d say at this point, he’s in a good spot to be that backup goaltender and that’s why he’s getting that opportunity there. I think whether it goes really well or it doesn’t, we’re going to evaluate it.
“Ultimately, he’s done a lot of really good things over the last couple of years – being a two-time All-Star in the American Hockey League, his game continues to improve every year. Had another solid year before the pause down in Hershey. He’s a guy we want to see in this type of setting. Obviously, a little bit more experienced guy in Copley, who’s been in this situation. It gives us a great chance to get Vancek in there and see how he does in the third period of this game.”
Vanecek went 19-10-1 with the Hershey Bears this season, registering a 2.26 goals against average and a 91.7 save percentage. He also posted two shutouts. The Czech goaltender’s biggest moment of his career happened at the 2020 AHL All-Star Game where he was named MVP. It was the second consecutive year he’d been named an AHL All-Star.
Capitals starter Braden Holtby will play the first two periods of the game before yielding to Vanecek.
Reirden also announced that the Capitals will dress 13 forwards and seven defensemen for the game, as the NHL is giving playoff teams the benefit of dressing two extra skaters to get more acclimated to gameplay. Reirden said those players will be Travis Boyd and Radko Gudas, who earned the spots due to their performance during the season.
The Capitals’ lineup is expected to look like this (but there could be some surprises).
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – TJ Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Lars Eller – Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Panik – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brenden Dillon – Dmitry Orlov
Jonas Siegenthaler – Nick Jensen
Extras: Travis Boyd, Radko Gudas
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