Vitek Vanecek will start his first career season opener against the New York Rangers, Wednesday night.
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced the surprising news in his pregame press conference hours before puck drop.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 13, 2021
“I thought his camp was really good,” Laviolette said. “He separated himself a little bit and for that, he gets the opportunity to start. Then the goalies will fight for the opportunity to play. I just think in camp he was a little bit more steady. It’s a starting point and a long year so that’s where we’re starting. I think just the consistency inside the games, inside practice, just a little bit more consistency.”
Samsonov suffered a lower-body injury during the preseason and had a sub-.900 save percentage.
Vanecek is coming off a 2020-21 season that saw him play in 37 games for the Capitals and finish sixth in Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year. He posted a 2.69 goals-against average and a .908-save percentage.
Vanecek will make the start after a whirlwind of a summer that saw him selected by Seattle in the expansion draft and then traded back to DC only seven days later.
Ilya Samsonov stayed on the ice after the morning skate for extra work with the other scratches Connor McMichael, Matt Irwin, and Beck Malenstyn.
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