Capitals goaltender coach Scott Murray on Vitek Vanecek’s hot start, Ilya Samsonov’s changed role and more – the Athletic


The Capitals’ goaltending rotation didn’t go as expected in the first 10 days of the season.

Vitek Vanecek, not Ilya Samsonov, got the go-ahead for the season opener and started three of the first four games.

And he took the opportunity, going 2-0-1 with a .946 save percentage and a 1.30 goals-against average.

Samsonov, meanwhile, performed well in his lone start, helping the Caps beat Nathan MacKinnon and the mighty Avalanche on Tuesday. But, for now, he appears to be # 2.

So what should we do with all of this? What is behind Vanecek’s slight increase in play? And how does Samsonov handle a reduced role to start the year?

To get those questions answered, The Athletic went straight to the source, goalie coach Scott Murray. The following is our Q&A with the Veteran Assistant.

(Answers edited slightly for length and clarity.)

It seems to me that the goalie rotation did not go as most observers suspected. So far, at least. Is this a fair statement?

Obviously, Sammy got the first crack in the NHL, but both are legitimate prospects. We know Sammy’s skill level and talent, and Vitek has been a little under the radar because he was in the American Hockey League a little longer. But he went back a good few years (to Hershey).


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