Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette would not name a starter for Game 1 of the team’s first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Boston Bruins on Saturday (7:15 PM ET, NBC). He said they would keep that internal for the playoffs.
“Those are things we’re going to keep internal. Just with regard with the playoffs and where we go with our goaltending and our lineup. We’ll probably keep that internal for the playoffs,” said Laviolette following the team’s practice on Thursday.
Ilya Samsonov was still on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol as of 5 PM ET on Wednesday and has not played since May 1 after he was late to a team function in New York. The 25-year-old has gone 13-4-1 with a .902 save percentage, a 2.69 goals-against per game, and two shutouts in 19 games this season. He allowed four goals on 26 shots in his lone start against the Bruins, a 4-2 loss on April 8.
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Vitek Vanecek has proven that he can carry more of the workload as he started 13 consecutive games and 16 of 17 from January 19-February 27 when Samsonov was out with COVID-19. In seven games against the Bruins this season, the 25-year-old went 4-3-0 with a .905 save percentage and a 2.86 goals-against average.
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Neither has started a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their respective careers.
Laviolette has kept Craig Anderson in the mix when discussing the Capitals’ goalie situation in the past few weeks. The 39-year-old went 2-1-0 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.13 goals-against average this season. In 46 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Anderson has gone 23-22 with a .929 save percentage, a 2.35 goals-against average, and four shutouts. He helped the Ottawa Senators take the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins to double overtime in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.
By Harrison Brown
I bet Anderson gets the start. He’s only got four starts, should have played more during regular season. If the only the Capitals don’t feel comfortable starting him is because of the low number of starts, that’s on Lavi.
My guess is that Vanacek gets most of the starts except when he needs a break