Ilya Samsonov is officially back with the Capitals after making two conditioning starts for the Hershey Bears. Samsonov won one game and lost another, posting a .885 save percentage during his time in the AHL.
In a corresponding move, the Capitals placed 39-year-old Craig Anderson on the taxi squad. Anderson played in only one game while serving as backup to Vitek Vanecek, taking the loss in a relief effort against the Flyers.
#Caps recall G Ilya Samsonov from the Hershey Bears (AHL); re-assign G Craig Anderson to Taxi Squad and G Zach Fucale to Hershey
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 19, 2021
Samsonov and Vanecek took the ice 20 minutes before the Capitals’ full team practice and worked with new development coach Michael Peca.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 19, 2021
Here were the lines:
Capitals lines at Friday practice:
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 19, 2021
The Capitals have back-to-back games this weekend and could split the starts between Vanecek and Samsonov.
The Caps play:
Samsonov has not made a start in the NHL since January 17 when he lost in a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Days later, Samsonov found out that he tested positive for COVID-19. After struggling to walk and breathe while fighting the disease, Samsonov returned to the team three weeks later. The team optioned him to Hershey to get work in the AHL.
During Samsonov’s absence, Vanecek took over the starting role and was named NHL Rookie of the Month in January. It’s unclear who could end up starting the remainder of games this season.
Here’s more from the Capitals PR on Vanecek’s play of late:
Vitek Vanecek made 22 saves last night against the Buffalo Sabres to earn his second-straight win and improve to 7-3-2 this season, tied with Chicago’s Kevin Lankinen (7-2-3) for the most wins among rookies and the sixth-most among all goaltenders.
Vanecek has stopped 48 of the last 50 shots he has faced over the last two games, good for a .960 save percentage. After last night’s performance, Vanecek became the fourth goaltender in franchise history to start 12 consecutive games (Jim Carey: 21-straight, 14-5-2-0 record in 1994-95; Braden Holtby: 15-straight, 8-7-0 record in 2011-12; Semyon Varlamov: 13-straight: 7-6-0 record in 2008-09).
This season, Vanecek has recorded a 0.84 goals saved above average rating (GSAA), making him one of 11 goaltenders with at least 10 games played to record a positive GSAA this season. Should Vanecek continue to pace the NHL in wins among rookie goaltenders, this will mark the second-consecutive season the Capitals have had a rookie goaltender finish in the top-2 in wins (Ilya Samsonov: 16 wins in 2019-20).
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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