Capitals pin their Stanley Cup hopes on young goalie tandem

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J.J. Regan
·2 min read
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Caps pin their Stanley Cup hopes on young goalie tandem originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The biggest question surrounding the Capitals heading into the trade deadline was whether or not they would acquire a veteran goalie to bolster the position. But the trade deadline came and went Monday with no addition to the crease meaning the Stanley Cup hopes for Washington now rest on the shoulders of the 24-year-old Ilya Samsonov and the 25-year-old Vitek Vanecek.

The unexpected departure of Henrik Lundqvist in the offseason suddenly left the team with an inexperienced goalie tandem of Samsonov and Vanecek. The results, thus far, have been about as good as anyone could have hoped for, as Washington currently sits tied for first in the East Division with 58 points. At the very least, the team certainly does not seem to be suffering from its goaltending play.

But the Caps also rank 21st in the NHL in save percentage with .900, the second-lowest among teams currently in playoff position, and general manager Brian MacLellan said after the deadline had passed that he explored making an addition in net.

"We looked at it," he said.

But MacLellan also expressed confidence in the way both Samsonov and Vanecek are playing and noted there was no need to add veteran experience with both Craig Anderson and Pheonix Copley also within the organization.

"I think both of our guys have played well and are progressing," MacLellan said. "Vitek has been pretty solid. Samsonov is improving and coming along so it is tough to bring in a guy and throw him in front of them. We have [Craig Anderson] on the taxi squad and [Pheonix Copley] in Hershey."

Just as picking up another goalie would have been a risk, so too is relying on a goalie tandem with no playoff experience. Making no move was just as much of a gamble as making a move would have been. Looking at the goalies who were moved at the deadline, however, it is fair to wonder just how much of an upgrade players like David Rittich or Devan Dubnyk would actually be. Enough to justify moving a roster player? Probably not. And if you are not looking to add a contributing goalie, but just veteran experience, the Caps didn't really need that considering Anderson is on the taxi squad.

It is easy to look at the trade deadline and declare the Caps did nothing to upgrade their goaltending, but was there even a move to make that really would have been an upgrade over what the team currently has?

Said MacLellan, "We feel confident in our goaltending depth and the progress our two young guys are making right now.”