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Exhibition: Caps vs Canes

July 29, 2020, 2:19 PM ET [2 Comments]
Brian Sickles
Washington Capitals Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Today at 4pm EST, the Caps will take on Canes for their lone exhibition game. This is essentially a tune-up game for the round robin round. I am excited to watch the boys work their way back up to full speed!

I watched the entire Flyers vs Pens game yesterday and ill characterize it in one word…sloppy! I didn’t catch the other two games, but from what I read, they both took awhile to get the flow going as well. I expect today’s game to mirror that trend. Its been 141 days since the Caps last game. While there will be lots to focus on and analyze today, the one thing I am really focusing on above all is goaltending.

How will Braden Holtby look today? During last week’s intra-squad scrimmage, Coach Reirden stacked the blue team against Holtby and he played great! This was later described by Reirden himself as an intentional move to get Holtby back up to speed and acclimated the fastest. I think the 141-day layoff may actually help Holtby refocus his game with a sort of “clean slate” and playoff mindset. I may be reaching on that, but it won’t take much for him to improve on his regular season averages of .897 SV% and 3.11 GAA. Holtby still has the 6th best SV% all time in the playoffs and there is no one else I’d rather have in net for a playoff series.

I will also be watching which backup gets ice time in what will likely be the third period of the game. Samsonov is out for the playoffs and that is a huge blow to goaltending depth. Our netminder depth is among the best in the league but Samsonov was a nice insurance policy in the event Holtby either were injured or struggled badly in a series. The backup battle is between been Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek. Copley is likely the favorite for the role. He had a 16-7-3 record with the Caps last season, .905 SV%, and a 2.90 GAA. For the Hersey bears this season, Copley posted a .905 SV% and a 2.47 GAA. Vitek Vanecek posted a .917 SV% and 2.26 GAA for the bears this season as well. Slightly better stats than Copley but Vanecek has never started an NHL game. Vanecek had a great season in the AHL and was even named MVP of the AHL All-Star game. He is trending up but simply doesn’t have the NHL experience to compete with Copley.

In regard to the offense and defense, I am expecting some rust, but I mostly just want to see how the intensity, speed, and flow improve throughout the game. It is going to be ugly at times, but I want to see progression in play.

After today here is the Round Robin Schedule:

Monday August 3rd vs Tampa Bay Lighting
Thursday August 6th vs Philadelphia Flyers
Sunday August 9th vs Boston Bruins

Thanks for reading!
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