The Washington Capitals will turn to rookie Vitek Vanecek for the eleventh straight game on Tuesday with Ilya Samsonov still out of the lineup.
Vanecek, who was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month in January after not losing in regulation, has cooled off considerably in February. Vanecek is 0-3 in his four February starts, giving up 3.75 goals per game and posting a .846 save percentage.
Despite Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noting that Vanecek looks “worn out by the workload” in his latest 31 Thoughts column, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette will turn to the 24-year-old again against the Penguins.
“If you look at the game last game, Vitek gave us a chance to win,” Laviolette said. “There’s two tap-in goals where we’ve gotta do a better job in front of him. Again, I don’t think it was the quantity, it was the quality of a couple of the chances we gave up.
He added, “We’ve got a lot of confidence in Vitek. He’s rested. We’re not finding ourselves in back-to-back situations. He’s played well for us.”
While Laviolette has faith in Vanecek, it appears he doesn’t have the same confidence in backup Craig Anderson. The 39-year-old veteran, who the Capitals signed over the offseason from the Ottawa Senators, struggled in a relief appearance against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 7. Anderson gave up two bad goals, posting a .750 save percentage. He hadn’t played in an NHL game since March 2019.
The Capitals are also opting not to turn to veteran Pheonix Copley who has started the season strong in the AHL and competently served as Braden Holtby’s NHL backup in 2018-19.
Meanwhile, Samsonov remains with the Hershey Bears as the team prepares to take on the Binghamton Devils on Wednesday. Samsonov will likely get another start after getting shelled for five goals on Sunday. Samsonov is trying to refind his conditioning after missing three weeks due to the coronavirus. Sammy said he had trouble breathing and walking while fighting the disease.
Samsonov, btw, remains in Hershey, I'm told. The Bears are slated to play at Binghamton tomorrow. #Caps
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 16, 2021
In other news, the Capitals will change up their top six against the Penguins, Tuesday. Evgeny Kuznetsov and TJ Oshie are being bumped up to the first line.
Capitals lines at morning skate, per team:
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 16, 2021
Tristan Jarry will start in net for Penguins.
Tristan Jarry will start in net for Penguins again tonight, says coach Mike Sullivan.
Rest of lineup (D Marcus Pettersson, who has missed last 9 games) are game-time decisions.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 16, 2021
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