Ilya Samsonov will get his first start of the season against the Colorado Avalanche, Tuesday.
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced the news in his pregame press conference hours before puck drop.
Ilya Samsonov will get his first start of the season tonight, per head coach Peter Laviolette.#CapsAvs pic.twitter.com/VQzAbG2SRb
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 19, 2021
Tuesday’s start comes after a whirlwind 2020-21 season that saw Samsonov, the initial starter, fully recover from a traumatic injury, catch COVID-19, get suspended, land in protocol again, and be a part of a costly turnover in a pivotal Game Three against the Bruins.
Over the offseason, the Capitals protected Samsonov in the Expansion Draft — only to lose and regain Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken. They later re-signed Sammy to a one-year, $2 million contract.
“I think we’re going to give him another opportunity to grab [the number one starting spot] and run with it,” MacLellan said of Samsonov over the offseason.
So far that hasn’t developed for Sammy as a minor lower-body injury and a sub .900 save percentage during the preseason gave Vanecek the first two starts of the season. The Czech netminder responded by posting a .938 save percentage in those games and took shutouts into the third period of both.
“We’re looking for great goaltending,” Laviolette said. “I think we’ve gotten that. I think Vitek from camp got the nod because of what he did and then the first two games he hasn’t disappointed. His numbers are excellent, he’s made a lot of big saves through the course of the games to give us a chance. I don’t think we’ve given up a ton, but last game, in particular, there were some turnovers with the puck where we had the puck, and all of the sudden they’re right there and we needed a save and he made those saves. He’s done the job and at the end of the day we’re looking for somebody to step up.”
As for Samsonov, Laviolette said, “He’s looked really good. There’s a competitiveness and a consistency that we’re looking at and just visually it’s been better.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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