Photo: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
After losing the first two games of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the New York Rangers, the New Jersey Devils will sit goaltender Vitek Vanecek and start Akira Schmid in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday (8 PM ET, ABC, ESPN+) with their season on the line.
Vanecek, 26, allowed nine goals on 52 shots (.827 save percentage) in the first two games of the series, where New York beat New Jersey by a score of 5-1 each time.
Schmid, 22, went 9-5-2 with a .922 save percentage, 2.13 goals-against average, and a shutout in 18 regular-season games. He will make his postseason debut on Saturday.
New Jersey acquired Vanecek from the Washington Capitals on July 8.
Vanecek entered last postseason as Washington’s starter but coughed it up after posting an .863 save percentage and a 4.21 goals-against average in the first five periods of the team’s first-round series against the Florida Panthers before Ilya Samsonov took the job again and never looked back. Those would be Vanecek’s final moments on the ice as a Capital.
By Harrison Brown
Shocked? Nope. Both Vanecek and Samsonov have showed this post-season why the Caps gave up on them.
It’s a little surprising to me, just because of the way they performed during the regular season. But in the end, no, not shocked.
The Devils played much better D in front of Vanecek during the season than they’ve showed so far in the post-season. He can generally stop the stuff he’s supposed to stop, since he’s a pretty good technician. And during the regular season, that’s mostly what he saw. But he doesn’t have the overall talent (size, quickness) needed to bail out a team that’s getting whupped, and the Devils are getting whupped.
Samsonov does have the size and quickness, he still just has too many holes that opponents can exploit, particularly if they can get him to move — or rather over-move — and open up. He also still seems to lose focus for parts of games. He played much better in game 2, but which Sammy will show up in any given game? One of the great mysteries in life…
I’ve always said that if you could combine Vitek’s technique with Sammy’s tool-set, you’d have… Vasilevskiy… more or less. Unfortunately the Caps goalie coaches were not mad scientists and could not figure out a way to transform their two young, flawed goalies into one great one!
Sammy did not fall part after game 1. When he was with the Caps, he would have. He came back and had a very strong game 2. He may not yet be what the Caps hoped for when they drafted him, but he has matured a lot in Toronto. He’s older, wiser, but I also credit their coaching.
I agree he has matured mentally. But he still has holes that can be exploited, and his inconsistency is real trouble in a 7-game series, particularly in the east, where the competition is so good. The Leafs can’t afford their goalie to give away any goals, just like the Caps couldn’t, but they are highly likely to see more softies from Samsonov before the end of this series.
He does tend to be a rubber wall giving away loads of rebounds.
NJD team in front of VV has been manhandled by NYR
I do notice, however, that in an NHL peppered with Washington-developed goalies on play-off teams, this year’s Capitals featured no Cap-drafted goalies for the first time in I don’t know how long. And, of course, we missed the play-offs for the first time in I don’t know how long.
Both things are true. But not fully correlated. If we had both Sammy and Vanecek this year we would have been out of it earlier.
….and you know this how?
It’s just an opinion. It is interesting that they happened in the same year. I just don’t think there is any cause and effect. Having the man games lost and salary cap lost to IR/LTIR seems more correlative to me.