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CAPITALS SET TO GO WITH YOUNG GOALTENDING DUO FOR 2020-21 SEASON

Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced Monday that the team will go with a goaltending duo of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek for the 2020-21 season.

This is a bit of a surprise decision given that they also had Pheonix Copley and longtime veteran Craig Anderson at camp. Laviolette, who was named the Capitals head coach in September, did also say that Anderson is «going to be a part of it» which seems to indicate he will be on the team's taxi squad for the season.

It will be quite strange for NHL fans to see the Capitals playing without Braden Holtby between the pipes. The 31-year-old had spent his entire career in Washington, but signed a four-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks this past offseason. As a result, the reins have been handed to Samsonov, who the team selected in the first-round (22 overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The 23-year-old played 26 games in his rookie season with the Capitals last year, posting a 2.55 goals against average (GAA) along with a .913 save percentage (SV%) and a 16-6-2 record. The Caps, of course, had signed Henrik Lundqvist to be a backup and mentor to Samsonov, but he will not be playing this season after undergoing open heart surgery.

Vanecek, on the other hand, has zero NHL experience to this point. The 25-year-old, who was taken in the second-round (39 overall) is a bit of a late bloomer, having spent the majority of the past four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears. The 2019-20 season was his best to date as a pro, as he put up a 2.26 GAA along with a .917 SV% and a 19-10-1 record.



Given that they are both young and fairly inexperienced goaltenders, they may have times where they struggle throughout the 2020-21 season. Thankfully for them, the Capitals are once again expected to be one of the better teams in the NHL, which will certainly help them out if they are to struggle. Of course, it should be noted that Samsonov is regarded as one of the best young goaltenders in the world right now, and many believe he will take a huge step forward this season.




COLTON PANKIW
JANUARY 11, 2021  (17H41)
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