The biggest question of the Capitals training camp has been answered and the news is not good.
Goalie Ilya Samsonov, who has not taken part in any practice during training camp, suffered an injury prior to camp and will not travel with the team to Toronto, the team announced to the media on Saturday. The Caps will travel to the hub city of Toronto on Sunday taking with them only Braden Holtby, Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek.
Samsonov will remain in Washington for treatment and is expected to be healthy for the 2020-21 season.
In order to protect the privacy of players in terms of illness and the coronavirus, the new policy for the 2020 season is that teams do not have to disclose any information regarding player absences for health reasons other than labeling them "unfit to play." Because of that, the status of Samsonov has been unknown throughout camp.
And so the Cup hopes of Washington will once again fall squarely on the shoulders of Holtby.
For much of the season, Holtby was outplayed by Samsonov as shown by Samsonov's superior numbers (.913 save percentage vs. Holtby's .897, 2.55 GAA vs. Holtby's 3.11). Samsonov, however, struggled as the team's defensive play deteriorated with a 0-4-1 record, .869 save percentage and 4.34 GAA heading into the season pause. That allowed Holtby to reassert himself as the No. 1. Heading into training camp Todd Reirden had already declared that the No. 1 job was Holtby's to lose.
With Samsonov out, Copley is expected to be the primary backup. As the team's backup in 2018-19, Copley went 16-7-3 with a .905 save percentage and 2.90 GAA.
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