Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette shared updates on the team’s situation between the pipes while speaking to reporters on Friday.
Per The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, Laviolette said he doesn’t believe that Vanecek’s injury will be a lingering issue.
“He had a good day today. Again, I think that’s a good thing, a positive sign,” Laviolette told the media prior to Friday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. “He came out and got some work down here inside the room and then got some work out on the ice, so all things are good.”
Vanecek appeared to be hurting near the end of the Capitals’ 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. His arm got pinned under a player, and he hadn’t lifted his arm too much while celebrating with the team postgame. He did skate on Wednesday and was a full participant in practice, engaging in high-intensity drills and remaining on the ice the whole time.
In the meantime, Ilya Samsonov will get the nod against the Jackets on Friday. His start comes a night after Zach Fucale made franchise history with a win and shutout in his NHL debut for Washington in a 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Capitals had recalled Fucale on Wednesday as the team monitored Vanecek’s status.
READ MORE ON WHN: Fucale Gets Wild Celebration From Capitals After First NHL Win, Shutout
It’ll be an important game for Samsonov, who hasn’t been the most consistent in net for Washington to open the campaign. He is 3-0-1 through five games but has struggled, registering a 2.91 GAA and .893 save percentage so far.
Fucale has made some noise in the organization during his tenure so far. In 11 games with Hershey last season, Fucale went 9-2-0 and ranked first in the league with a 1.80 GAA and second with a .932 save percentage. This year, he has gone 3-0-2 with the Bears through five games, registering a 1.73 GAA and .933 save percentage. The 26-year-old has been through 14 different pro teams since finally making his NHL debut Thursday and put on quite a show. If he continues to make a statement, he may make the Capitals re-evaluate their goaltending situation (just as Alex Nedeljkovic did in Carolina).
It’s up to Samsonov now, who is on a one-year bridge deal in D.C., to prove that he can be a reliable starter for Washington.