Hershey update: 26-16-8-3, 5th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-2-0-0
The Zach Sanford-Jakub Vrana competition for a spot on the Caps’ third line in place of the injured Andre Burakovsky was over before it even really began. Both Sanford and Vrana were recalled by the Caps after the bye week, but only Sanford got in the lineup and Vrana was sent back down to Hershey after Sunday's game against the New York Rangers.
Vrana seems to be struggling with staying mentally focused at times in Hershey which can happen when a player knows he is on the verge of making the NHL. Still, he needs to play well with the Bears for the Caps to have confidence in him for any future call-ups.
Tarik El-Bashir and I talk about the Sanford-Vrana competition and who we think has the higher ceiling in this week’s Capitals Faceoff Podcast. We also touch on Stanislav Galiev who had another impressive weekend with three goals. As well as he has played of late, I don’t foresee any recall upcoming for him. I believe the Caps are ready to move on after this season when Galiev’s contract expires.
Forward Travis Boyd was recalled by the Capitals on Tuesday, his first call-up to the NHL. Washington was in need of an extra forward for a road game in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The recall is a reward for his stellar work in Hershey this season. He did not play in Wednesday’s game and is not expected to crack the lineup while with the Caps.
After a rough stretch for Hershey in net, Vitek Vanecek appears to be settling in again. He came on in relief of Parker Milner on Friday and stopped all 18 shots he faced. He also earned a 33-save shutout in his start against Providence on Saturday, his fourth shutout of the season.
Unfortunately, Vanecek couldn’t finish the week on a high note as he gave up four goals on 28 shots on Saturday in a 5-1 loss to Bridgeport.
Other prospect notes:
Connor Hobbs found himself in a bit of hot water on Saturday for a dangerous hit he delivered to Moose Jaw forward Brett Howden. Howden was already tied up with another player along the boards when Hobbs laid into him.
The highlights of the game offer a view of the hit, though it is very brief. You can watch it here.
Hobbs was assessed a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.
Not surprisingly, there was a difference of opinion over the hit after the game.
“I don’t think he got him in the head at all,” Regina head coach John Paddock said.
Moose Jaw head coach Tim Hunter, however, said “That’s a predatory hit. That’s a major penalty. When a guy is being checked with no route to avoid another check and he’s vulnerable and someone takes liberties to try and run him over when he can’t get out of the way, that’s a predatory hit and a major penalty and a suspendable offence.”
Hobbs received a one-game suspension for the hit and missed Regina’s game on Monday. In the three games he did play in this week, Hobbs tallied one goal and three assists.
Goalie Ilya Samsonov finished off a brilliant season in the KHL with a 1-0 shootout win on Friday. He had 31 saves for the game.
Russian Machine Never Breaks does a thorough breakdown of the regular season finale. Check it out here.
Samsonov finished the season with a 15-3-5 record, a .936 save percentage and a 2.13 GAA, helping lead Metallurg Magnitogorsk to the top record in the eastern conference. Now it’s on to the playoffs where Metallurg will look to defend its championship from last season.
Samsonov helped the team get off on the right foot with a 4-2 Game 1 win against Kunlun Red Star. The young netminder turned aside 26 of the 28 shots he faced for the win. Game 2 will be played on Friday.
It was another impressive week for defenseman Chase Priskie in Quinnipiac as he tallied two assists on Saturday. Despite being a defenseman, Priskie leads the team in points this season with 25 (7 goals, 18 assists) in 30 games. He has been red hot over the second half of the season with 19 points in his last 14 games.
Priskie’s 19 power play points leads all defensemen in the ECAC. His seven goals, 18 assists and 25 points also all rank in the top four among the league’s defensemen.
MORE CAPITALS: The Caps are hopeful Niskanen avoided serious injury