Vitek Vanecek 2022 Report Card

Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Vitek Vanecek is part two of the young Washington Capitals goalie duo. Vanecek, while undoubtedly not as talented as his counterpart, Ilya Samsonov, has still outplayed the young Russian netminder in back-to-back seasons.

While Vanecek only started two of the Capitals playoff games before being pulled in favor of Samsonov, he was clearly the better netminder all season long. Despite Samsonov’s temporary heroics in the playoffs, I was of the opinion that Vanecek deserved to start game three because without him, the Capitals may not have even made the playoffs. Looking back, would it have mattered who started games three, four, five, and six? Probably not. Samsonov played admirably and the Caps still fell short but it should have been Vanecek’s job, no questions asked.

In 42 regular season games, Vanecek went 20-12-6, posting a save percentage of .908 and a goals against average of 2.67. Just over 46 percent of his starts were quality starts and he saved 0.9 goals above expected. Vanecek, gets a B-. The Czech netminder was good, he certainly wasn’t great, but he gave the Capitals a chance to win almost every game he started. If the Capitals only bring back one-half of the young duo for 2022-2023, you can put me on team Vanecek.

Peter Laviolette is an excellent head coach and he had a good season despite the team’s injuries. However, if there was one thing he mismanaged, it was the duo of young goalies. Vitek Vanecek should have been unapologetically crowned the team’s number one goalie halfway through the season at the latest. Regardless of who was hot or who was cold, Vanecek should have been between the pipes game after game. And that, is why Vanecek gets a B- and not a grade in the C-range.

The back-and-forth of who would be the team’s go-to goalie prevented both Vanecek and Samsonov from really finding their groove and gaining confidence. There was no hint of discontent at anytime from either young netminder, and I give them kudos for that. Even, at the trade deadline when Vanecek was playing some of his best hockey, the team was still pursuing Marc-Andre Fleury. But night in and night out, Vanecek had a big smile on his face and put the team in a position to win. A true world-class teammate. Ilya Samsonov just didn’t deserve to be the number one goalie, his statistics and inconsistency back that up, but to be Vitek Vanecek, the guy who was outplaying his counterpart on a nightly basis yet still not winning the starting job had to be frustrating.

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Vitek Vanecek is certainly not an elite-level goalie but don’t let anybody tell you he isn’t good. Here’s to hoping that if John Gibson or Sergei Bobrovsky isn’t the guy in 2022-2023, it’s Vitek Vanecek with a clear backup goaltender behind him. Capitals fans just might be surprised at what they get from VV.