Junkies: Credit to Vanecek for helping Caps sneak Game 1 victory


Goaltender Vitek Vanecek was the unlikely star for the Capitals in their thrilling Game 1 win over the Florida Panthers Tuesday night, stopping 30 of 32 shots in the 4-2 victory.

Capitals coach Peter Laviolette made the pivotal call to go with Vanecek (20-12-6) over Ilya Samsonov (23-12-5) and was rewarded with Vanecek outshining his rival, two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, whose .919 save percentage on the night gave way to three Capital goals (the fourth was an empty netter).

"What gave me confidence, though, was they showed the goalie comparison of Vanecek during the regular season and Bobrovsky. The guy has a much better record, undeniably," said John-Paul Flaim on The Sports Junkies Wednesday morning. "But then it said goals against, it was identical! 2.67!"

Indeed, both netminders own the same 2.67 goals against average on the season, although Bobrovsky won 39 games, a hearty 19 more than Vanecek.

"And then the save percentage, it was basically the same," Flaim added. "And I was like, we grill this guy for giving up soft goals and not being a great goalie, and Samsonov the same thing... I was like, their goalie's the same!"

"I don't know if they're the same," Jason Bishop cautioned.

"Look, in a one-game snapshot from last night, he allowed two goals against the most prolific goal-scoring team in the league," John Auville said. "So for the Caps and Laviolette who made that decision to go with Vitek over Ilya in Game 1, it looks like the right call, at least through the first game. Because, I mean that's a Panthers team that's routinely potting four, five and six goals. You hold them to two on home ice and sneak out a win in Game 1? It's high marks all the way around."

The Caps and Panthers square off next in Game 2 on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at FLA Live Arena. You can listen to John Walton on the home call right here on 106.7 The Fan.