Confidence in the Crease: The Washington Capitals’ Offseason Goaltending Shakeup Paying Off

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When the offseason officially began for all 32 NHL teams last summer, it was no secret that the Washington Capitals were in the market for a goaltender or two. Having given the paint to two, inexperienced young netminders in former first-round pick Ilya Samsonov, and Vitek Vanecek for the past two seasons, with no real consistency or clear cut starter, both were let go (Vitek Vanecek via trade, Samsonov in free agency after being non-tendered) leaving Washington’s net literally empty (pun intended).

While trades were certainly an avenue General Manager Brian MacLellan could take, free agency seemed to hold the best bet to find a solution, with Stanley Cup champion Darcy Kuemper unable to reach an agreement with the Colorado Avalanche he was the unquestioned best option on the open market; the Caps’ brass dipped their feet in the free agent waters and signed Kuemper to a five-year deal to become the team’s undoubtable number one.

To fill the second spot on their goaltending depth chart, the Caps signed Charlie Lindgren, a veteran of just 29 NHL games (and five in 2021-22) with the Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues, to a three-year deal.

Through 39 Games Played, the Caps’ record sits at 21-13-5, ranking 10th in Wins. The new tandem’s stats are as follows:
O Darcy Kuemperor: 23 GP (23 starts)/10-9-3 record/54 GA/2.47 Goals-Against Average/.920 SV %/3 SO/.609 Quality Start %
O Charlie Lindgren: 18 GP (16 starts)/11-4-2 record/44 GA/2.57 Goals-Against Average/.914 SV %/0 SO/.625 Quality Start Percentage

The Capitals’ goaltending duo has provided a stability that the team had lacked in the last two seasons with two young netminders whose time to prove themselves a number one goalie had run out by the time the 2022 offseason arrived. The Caps’ 2.51 Goals-Against Average ranks seventh among NHL clubs and the duo has the team in fifth with a .913 Save Percentage.

While Lindgren’s relative lack of NHL time was a number the Capitals were willing to look past when signing him, the 29-year St. Cloud State product has proven himself to be a solid backup when called upon as evidenced by his impressive run during Kuemper’s time sidelined with an injury.

Kuemper, meanwhile, has filled the void of a number one admirably, and recorded his first two (of three total thus far) shutouts in a Caps sweater within his first 20 games; only four other goaltenders (minimum 50 Games Played) in franchise history have recorded two or more shutouts in their first twenty games with Washington (Craig Billington, Jim Carey, Braden Holtby, and Rick Tabaracci)

With a reliable presence behind them, the Capitals’ play in front of the net has improved as the season has progressed, and the team currently sits in third in the Metropolitan Division, after being seventh after their seventh loss in nine games to the St. Louis Blues on November 17.

While the season is nearly at the halfway mark and the Caps in much better positionally, there is still a lot of hockey left to play. Unlike the inconsistencies of the past two seasons, however, Head Coach Peter Laviolette now has two solidly reliable backstops to trot out on a nightly basis, both of whom give the team a chance to win on any given night.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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4 Responses to Confidence in the Crease: The Washington Capitals’ Offseason Goaltending Shakeup Paying Off

  1. Anonymous says:

    Chuck could start on other teams… he has high value.

  2. horn73 says:

    This post will be missing some detail….I get it

    I was listening to one (they have several back-to-back daily – The Power Play or The Point…I’m not sure) of the NHL shows/podcast on NHL network radio a few days after free agency began. Towards the end of the show that day, the three host names the top two or three teams’ performance up to that point. And the 3rd team for one of the guys, was the Caps and the two goaltenders they signed. And the host said he is giving the Caps 3rd based off what some goaltending “expert” in his mind had told him about not just Darcy – Like the comment was that Darcey is clearly a solid signing, but that Lindgren is the steal and that his analytics were somewhat off the charts.

    Yes, I wish I could find out who the goaltending expert was, but either way, that take was pretty dead on.

  3. novafyre says:

    A number of teams have moved from #1 and backup to tandem goalies. I feel that is where the Caps should be. We have two good goalies and they should be treated equally. Both get chances. If one gets hot, he gets more work. But we shouldn’t be referring to them as #1 and #2. And neither should Lavi.

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