For the Washington Capitals, their goaltending department is completely different than what it was expected to look like going into this season.
Before January 14, it was newly promoted Ilya Samsonov who worked his way up Washington’s depth chart and Henrik Lundqvist. Hank had just been bought out by the New York Rangers and signed a one-year deal with the Capitals.
Hank is now out for the year and is focusing on recovering from heart surgery. Samsonov has only been able to play two games this entire season and hasn’t played an NHL game in over a month.
Samsonov was on NHL’s COVID protocol the whole time which is why he hasn’t been on the ice for the Capitals. He played two games for the Hershey Bears for conditioning and officially rejoined the Caps on February 19th and then out on their taxi squad the next day. We can expect to see him in game action very soon.
After Henrik Lundqvist announced he would not be able to join the Capitals for this season, veteran goaltender Craig Anderson was signed to a one-year deal. But Anderson has only started one game.
So who has been playing all these games? 25-year-old Vitek Vanecek has been with the Capitals organization since 2016. He made his NHL debut last January and is 7-4-2 since then.
Usually in the span of a month, an NHL team would have at least one back-to-back set of games but Washington has been lucky with the only occurrence being their first two games of the season. Samsonov and Vanecek each played one.
The Capitals had their first back-to-back this weekend where Craig Anderson made his first start with his new team in a 4-3 win against New Jersey.
Obviously head coach, Peter Laviolette, was fine with his rookie goaltender playing 13 games in a row as long as he had a day between games to rest up and so was Vanecek.
The young Czech has been a workhorse for Washington in the absence of Ilya Samsonov who knows what will happen now that they have their starter back on the roster.