The Washington Capitals brought Ilya Samsonov back from the Hershey Bears after a two-game conditioning stint last Friday, but it appears his time in the AHL may not be done after all.
After Tuesday’s morning skate, head coach Peter Laviolette revealed that Vitek Vanecek would receive his 15th start of the season, and Craig Anderson, coming off his first win Sunday since March 7, 2020, will back him up once again.
Meanwhile, Ilya’s status at the NHL level remains up in the air.
“Ilya’s doing good,” Laviolette said. “He’s continuing to push here.
“I believe there’s an opportunity for Samsonov to play in Hershey tomorrow night,” Laviolette added. “Get more game conditioning, and really set him up for success coming back from some time where he can just take in more game situations. It’s one thing to be in practice. It’s another thing to be on the taxi squad. But it’s a really positive thing when you get game situations. So again, working on his conditioning, getting him back to a level where we’re setting him up for success in the net.”
The Bears play the WBS Penguins in Wilkes-Barre Township, Wednesday. Samsonov gave up five goals in his first AHL start, but settled down in his second, stopping 22 shots in Hershey’s 2-1 win over the Binghamton Devils.
“Yes, I feel much better,” Samsonov said over the weekend. “Good experience for me. A couple good games. See everybody. Everything is good.”
He added, “First game was a little bit hard. It was different than practice. But second game was better. More conditioning and feel much, much better.”
Samsonov is trying to get back to the top of his game after testing positive for COVID-19 in January. The disease made it hard for Samsonov to breathe and walk and kept him on the NHL’s Protocol List for 19 days.
In his absence, Vitek Vanecek grabbed ahold of the starting job and was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for Janaury.
“Vitek has played great,” Samsonov said of his friend. “We love this. He’s helped the team. Awesome job for him.”
Wednesday’s Bears game could prove to be Sammy’s final tuneup before an NHL game.
“I’m ready,” Samsonov said.
2/24 Update: The Capitals have officially assigned Ilya Samsonov to the Hershey Bears ahead of Wednesday’s game.
#Caps re-assign goaltender Ilya Samsonov from Taxi Squad to the Hershey Bears (AHL)
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 24, 2021
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