Caps hope for net gain with youth
The Washington Capitals will go young in net to start the 2020-21 regular season, naming Ilya Samsonov and VitekVanecek the team’s No. 1 and No. 2 goaltenders Monday. This tandem has 26 games of NHL experience between them— all belonging to Samsonov. Vanecek has yet to make his NHL debut.
Samsonov was expected to be the team’s starting goaltender heading into the season after Braden Holtby signed in the offseason with the Vancouver Canucks. There was a brief thought that Henrik Lundqvist would challenge Samsonov for the starting spot, but after Lundqvist announced last month that he would not play this season because of a heart condition, Samsonov’s place between the pipes was all but secured.
The competition was mainly for the backup goaltending position among Vanecek, Pheonix Copley and Craig Anderson, who is in camp on a professional tryout agreement.
Samsonov, 23, finished last year with a 16-6-2 record while posting a 2.55 goals against average and .913 save percentage. While he was injured in an off-ice accident in Russia before the postseason and was unable to travel with the team, the young Russian says he is now 100 percent healthy.
Vanecek, 25, served as the team’s backup to Holtby last postseason. Vanecek was an American Hockey League all-star with the Hershey Bears the past two years and posted a 2.26 goals against average and .917 save percentage last season.
With the NHL requiring that three goaltenders be on the roster this season because of coronavirus protocols, it appears likely that Anderson will be the goalie assigned to the taxi squad.
Blackhawks give Colliton extension
CHICAGO— Jeremy Colliton replaced a beloved figure with the Chicago Blackhawks. Then his first full season with the team was interrupted by a pandemic.
That’s a lot of adversity for a first-time NHL coach, but Colliton says it made him better at his job.
Colliton agreed to a two-year contract extension Tuesday.
Colliton took over after Joel Quenneville was fired in November 2018, becoming the 38th coach in franchise history. Quenneville led the team to three Stanley Cup titles, and Colliton stepped into a room full of players who had grown accustomed to the system andmannerisms of the former NHL defenseman.
The Blackhawks dropped 14 of his first 17 games in charge. But they started to play better at the end of his first year and then took advantage of the NHL’s expanded postseason last year, winning a four-game series against Edmonton before being eliminated by Vegas.
Sharks face extended timeas roadwarriors
A disappointing 201920 season kept the San Jose Sharks out of the NHL bubble when the season restarted following the long break for the coronavirus.
The Sharks are getting plenty of time in a modified bubble of their own to start this season. The Sharks have become the NHL’s vagabonds, kicked out of their home because of strict coronavirus protocols that ban contact sports and sent on a road trip that will last at least a month and possibly even longer.
After spending two weeks for training camp in Arizona, the Sharks will play at least their first eight games on the road, starting with Thursday night’s opener against the Coyotes.
Officials in Santa Clara County, Calif., announced a three-week ban on contact sports games and practices on Thanksgiving weekend in response to rising coronavirus numbers in the San Jose area.
The ban was extended in December, forcing the Sharks to relocate to Arizona for a training camp that began Dec. 31. The ban was extended again last week and will remain in place until ICU bed availability increases to at least 15% in the area, leaving an open question about when the Sharks will be able to return to San Jose.
Bruins: The jersey of WillieO’Ree, who broke the NHL’s color barrier, will be retired by the Boston Bruins.
O’Ree’s No. 22 jersey will be honored prior to the Bruins’ Feb. 18 game against the New Jersey Devils.
He became the league’s first Black player when he suited up for Boston on Jan. 18, 1958, against the Montreal Canadiens, despite being legally blind in one eye. O’Ree played two seasons from the Bruins, retiring from professional hockey in 1979.
Wild: Minnesota signed forward Marcus Foligno to a three-year, $9.3 million contract extension, coming off the best season of his NHL career.
The deal takes a potential free agent off the market next summer and keeps Foligno in the fold through 2024. The 29-year-old had a careerhigh 25 points in 2019-20 despite playing in only 59 games.
Foligno also led the Wild with 184 hits. He is ninth in the league with 1,446 hits since the start of the 2013-14 season.