After bringing Ryan Shepard up to the taxi squad on Thursday morning, the Washington Capitals made another goaltending move, re-assigning Zach Fucale to the taxi squad and sending Shepard down to the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Shepard had practiced with the Capitals on Thursday.
Fucale is the first goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in his NHL debut, doing so against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 11. He has played 10 games with the Bears this season, going 6-2-2 with a 2.73 GAA and .889 save percentage.
Not only did the 26-year-old put himself on the radar with a stellar first game in Washington, but last season, he led the AHL in GAA (1.80) and ranked second in SV% (.932).
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Shepard will head back to Hershey, where he has a 2-1-0 record with a 2.34 GAA and .901 SV% in three games this season. He also played in nine games for the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, going 3-4-2 with a 3.43 GAA and .903 save percentage.
The Capitals now have another netminder available if Vitek Vanecek or Ilya Samsonov cannot play. Vanecek went on COVID-19 protocol on Dec. 24 but has been back at practice following the pause. He will come off protocol once he plays, which should be this weekend as the team embarks on a back-to-back road trip and plays St. Louis and Minnesota.
Given Washington’s tough go-of-it with injuries and COVID-19 this season, having a third goaltender is a good call. He will continue to skate with the taxi squad while Shepard heads to P.A. to help fill the void.