’10 in a row. It is really very big’

’10 in a row. It is really very big’

Over the summer, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan parted ways with the team’s two young goaltenders. Ilya Samsonov he was not tendered a qualifying offer and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs while Mac traded Vitek Vanecek to top division rival New Jersey.

It was a sink or swim moment for both goalkeepers. But two months into their time with their new teams, both are swimming.

The most recent example of success is Vitek Vanecekwho started the season slowly but is now flourishing with an easier workload under the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils, who missed the playoffs last season, have won 10 straight games and climbed into first place in the Metropolitan Division. Through seven appearances during that stretch (since Oct. 25), Vanecek is 7-0-0 with a 1.40 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage.

The Devils’ 10th straight win came on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens. During that 5-1 win, Vanecek stopped 25 of 26 shots for the O’s, good for a .962 save percentage.

“Honestly, it’s great,” Vanecek he said of the streak. “The first period was a bit tough, but then we woke up, got there and won the game. 10 in a row is huge. I hope we continue like this.”

Of his performance, Vanecek said, “Honestly, I felt good. I felt comfortable. It was a good thing, but the guys helped me.”

He later posted on his Instagram page excitedly.

Vanecek is certainly driven by a Devils team that is one of the best in the NHL this early in the season. The Devils have scored 60 goals in the division and given up 39 goals in the division, good for a 21+ goal differential. The Devils at 5-on-5 have the most shot attempts in the NHL (881) and have a 59.7 shooting percentage, second-most in the league. They have also scored 43 goals, the most in the league, in 5v5.

This means that the Devils put a lot of pressure on opposing teams and keep the puck in the offensive zone much more than other clubs. Their exemplary play is taking the stress off the goalie, who before the season was seen as a possible liability (Vanecek/MacKenzie Blackwood) and turning it into a strength. The Devils’ most impressive stat so far this season is that they’ve given up a league-low 107 high-danger chances at 5-on-5.

While Vanecek’s dashboard stats are excellent, his process stats suggest he’s not necessarily on top, at least not yet. According to Money Puckhe has an above-expected 0.6 goals saved, good for 40th best in the league.

It’s unclear if Vanecek would have replicated his success and continued to grow as a player in Washington this season. The Capitals are one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL early this season.

Here are some statistics to illustrate this. CF = shot attempts. xGF % = expected goal by percentage. SCF = Goal Chances Completed. HDCF% = High Hazard Chances.

Devils 5v5: 60.8% CF (2nd), 63.6% xGF (1st), 63.0% SCF (1st), 65.4% HDCF (1st)
Heads 5v5: 49.7% CF (18th), 46.5% xGF (24th), 48.6% SCF (21st), 47.6% HDCF (20th)

The Devils also give up a minimum of 24.5 shots against per game, while the Caps rank 16th with 31.9.

Vanecek’s stats are similar to those of Darcy Kuemper, Washington’s top starter this season.

Vanecek: 7-1-0, 2.18 GAA, .915 save percentage (5-for-5 .921 save percentage)
Kuemper: 5-8-1, 2.74 GAA, .911 save% (5vs.918 save%)

Vanecek has been good, but he also speaks to how well Kuemper has performed this season despite a tough workload.

Screenshot: New Jersey Devils

#row #big

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