Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov: Who Made Netminder Better This Season? It depends on the situation

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

Entering the 2021-22 regular season, the main point of concern between the capital office and the fans is the ability to score. The Capitals have one of the most veteran squads in the NHL, but also have one of the youngest parallel scorers in the league, especially among other contenders.

The scoring question was a bit more complicated when starting goalkeeper Vitek Vanecek was selected by Seattle Kraken in the open draft. General Manager Brian MacLellan ultimately parted ways with a draft pick in the second round to bring Vanecek back, but inexperience in the net was blamed for Caps’ decline this season.

Overall, there’s no clear favorite for the number one, 30-game start scoring spot of the season. There have been periods this season when both Ilya Samsonov and Vanecek have started multiple matches in a row. It looks like for now, head coach Peter Laviolette will continue to play hot games in the grid.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the performance of the Capitals netminders so far this season. Stats used in this post courtesy of Natural statistical tricks and Hockey is growing. If you want to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please see Glossary of NHL . analysis terms.

The goal above replaces

The goal above replaces is an index that compares the value of an ice player to an alternate level player. For goalkeepers, GAR takes into account performance in time equalization, kill shots, as well as drawing and taking free kicks. Let’s take a look at how Samsonov and Vanecek have performed so far this season:

Although Vanecek had a higher level of performance in the all-powers section, Samsonov was valued higher in GAR due to his performance in the penalty kill time. In that regard, Vanecek has struggled with less form than his replacement. We will look at the stats that both Samsonov and Vanecek have generated so far this season later in this post.

What’s really interesting is how the two scorers performed differently in the process of taking the penalty, where the goalkeeper is widely regarded as the best free kick killer on the ice.

Saving percentage according to game situation

Here are both scorers’ save percentage according to game situation: play five against five, during penalty kills and when playing power:

It will be interesting to see how the game situational savings percentages reflect GAR values ​​for both Samsonov and Vanecek this season. Samsonov is slightly behind in save percentage in the five-on-five, but his save percentage in penalty kills is 4.2 percentage points higher than Vanecek’s.

Percentage savings in electricity generation are added for informational purposes only. In most cases, conceded goals are more likely due to mistakes made by the players in power play than to the scorer’s fault.

Goals allowed in a 5v 5 . match

Below, we look at both the allowed goals of home goalscorers and goal save above average while playing five against five:

Vanecek’s performance in the five-on-five matchup was commendable. He allows less goals Expected target allowed figure (xGA), and a big part of that is his ability to keep dangerous shots on target from behind the net.

His HDGSAA 2.51 is significantly better than Samsonov’s -3.34, and could be a major reason why Samsonov’s numbers in the 5/5 match are worse than Vanecek’s. These numbers are also interesting because Samsonov and Vanecek played roughly the same number of games (Samsonov with 16 and Vanecek with 15).

Goals allowed during Penalty Kill

Next, we look at the same stats, but in the process of killing the penalty:

It is interesting that the performances of the two goalscorers have essentially reversed from the five-to-one penalty shoot-out. Samsonov conceded fewer goals than expected, and on the plus side, high-danger goals were saved above average. Vanecek is the complete opposite in that respect. These stats support the GAR values ​​for the penalty kill earlier in this post.

Goals are allowed in all situations

Now, let’s look at these metrics for all scenarios:

Now that we’re looking at Samsonov and Vanecek’s performance as a whole, it’s clear how similar their performances have been so far. Each of them clearly has strengths and weaknesses, but both scored more goals than expected.

Samsonov struggled with HDGSAA, mainly because of his time in the five-on-five, and Vanecek thrives on saving high-danger chances in the five-on-five, enhancing his value at there.

Average distance of face-to-face shots and allowed goals

Here are the average distances of shots both goalkeepers face, as well as the average distances allowed by goals:

There’s something appealing about these averages for each scorer. Samsonov’s average shot distance is higher than Vanecek’s, but his average target distance is lower. One thing to consider here is that Samsonov tends to concede more dangerous goals than Vanecek. Another part is that Vanecek tends to have trouble keeping track of photos taken from a bit further away.

Statistically speaking, the difference in the average distance between goals allowed is not large enough to specifically state that Vanecek has a much harder time on long shots than Samsonov.

The main statistical difference we can infer when looking at the data as a whole is due to Vanecek’s talent for keeping dangerous opportunities out of the net, so his average target distance higher than Samsonov. There’s also a reason why this makes Vanecek’s average distance of hits lower than Samsonov’s.

To further support this, Vanecek only faced four fewer high-risk shots than Samsonov in one less game, but had one more dangerous save and five fewer. goals are more dangerous.


Across a total of 30 matches for two netminders, the sample size is still a bit small to declare a starter and a backup scorer. Both Vanecek and Samsonov’s statistical performances were remarkably similar, with both scoring better than the other in different situations on the ice.

In fact, the main difference between Samsonov and Vanecek was Samsonov’s better performance in the box and Vanecek’s acumen to high-risk saves in the five-on-five match.

Ultimately, playing five-on-five is more important than killing penalties, as most of the match is played in a five-on-five set, which gives Vanecek a slight edge in this positional battle. On the other hand, the Capital benefits because there is not much time off between the two goalkeepers at night and night out. There is certainly a degree of stability in the grid that gives the Capitals an edge in a tournament where teams need two good goalkeepers to compete.

By Justin Trudel Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov: Who Made Netminder Better This Season? It depends on the situation

Subhankar Mondal

Subhankar Mondal is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Subhankar Mondal joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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