The Washington Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek left Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins with a lower-body injury and did not return. Craig Anderson replaced him and Pheonix Copley served as the backup.
INJURY UPDATE#Caps goaltender Vitek Vanecek sustained a lower body injury and will not return to tonight’s game. Pheonix Copley will serve as the emergency backup goaltender.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) May 16, 2021
Vitek Vanecek Leaves Game One
The rookie goaltender left the game after sustaining an injury trying to make a save on the Jake DeBrusk goal halfway through the first period. He seemed to be in a lot of pain and had to be assisted off the ice.
Vanecek played in 37 games during the regular season, having started 36. He has a 21-10-4 record with a .908 save percentage, 2.88 goals-against average and two shutouts. The Czech player has split the Washington net with Ilya Samsonov after the veteran Henrik Lundqvist had to go through heart surgery right before the start of the season.
The goaltender spent five seasons with the Hershey Bears, the Capitals AHL affiliate, before getting the nod in the NHL. Vanecek had a 19-10-2 record during the 2019-20 season, with a .917 save percentage and 2.69 goals-against average. The 25-year-old player was drafted 39th overall in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Capitals.
What This Means For The Future
The Capitals have been having trouble in the goaltending department since before this season started. After losing Braden Holtby during the offseason, they signed Lundqvist in hopes to ease things for their young goalies. However, he discovered a heart condition and went through surgery, which kept him from playing this year. With that, Washington had to rely on their young goalies, one who never played at the NHL level before.
Even with all the question marks surrounding the duo and especially Vitek Vanecek, they held their ground and helped the team get into the playoffs. Losing their number one goalie on game one is terrible for the Capitals and it’s even worse with Samsonov having lost the past five games due to being added to the NHL COVID protocol list. However, the good news for Washington fans is that Samsonov was cleared from the list on Saturday. This could mean he will be ready to play in the near future.
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