Ilya Samsonov Flashes “Upside Potential” In Kings Shutout

Photo: Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

It took some time, but for those of us that have followed his game since his draft day back in 2015, we knew it was just a matter of time. The only problem, time was running out for many in Caps nation, and patience was wearing thin.

Ilya Samsonov finally showed his “A” game Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. He stopped all 34 shots he faced to record his fifth career shutout in the NHL. But maybe more importantly, Samsonov showed some of his true “upside potential” that we have all talked about, seen on occasion, and why he was a first round draft pick in 2015.

The key to his game, from a long-time observers perspective, is how “quiet” he remains in the crease. We don’t have to go too far back (his last start against the Blue Jackets on November 12) to see a “noisy” Samsonov, flailing about from side to side, leaving the crease and often finding himself out of position.

It was a “quiet” night (control wise) for Samsonov on Wednesday. He made a few early glove saves with a certain degree of confidence, as if he was telling the Kings “you’re gonna have to do better than that.”

Samsonov is now 5-0-1 with a 2.45 GAA and a .914 save percentage so far this season. The big thing now is consistency, and he knows that.

“I need to play like that every night. It was an important game for me. I think I (turned to the) next page because my start of the season is not too great. I will believe that I will be better,” Samsonov said after the game.

Capitals’ bench boss Peter Laviolette praised the 24-year-old netminder’s performance after the game. “It was a really good performance by him. He seemed like he was in control of the game, control of his crease, and focused. He did a really good job.”

Vitek Vanecek will most likely get the next start when the Capitals visit the Shark Tank in San Jose on Saturday night. But if Samsonov can string a few more games together like Wednesday nights game against the Kings, we might be back to a true goalie competition for the Capitals.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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2 Responses to Ilya Samsonov Flashes “Upside Potential” In Kings Shutout

  1. steven says:

    He has lots of potential and needs to continue to grow up and learn his chosen profession. If he does he will be the #1 goalie here. The only 2 things in his way are himself and Kuzy. Les partying and more work and study of his position and game film. More concentration all the tim elike last night and no more mind farts.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Samsonov needs consecutive game to find his groove. Unfortunately the current scenario will not allow for that and that may be his downfall.

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