With both goalies, Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, returning in 2021-22 for the Washington Capitals – the team has two players with regular season starting experience between the pipes.

24-year-old Samsonov is entering his third season with the Caps, he has appeared in 45 games, starting 40 of them, posting a 29-10 record, a 2.61 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

Vanecek, who is 25-years-old, impressed as a rookie last season. Vanecek started 36 games, going 21-10 – his statistics were almost identical to Samsonov’s career marks – 2.69 goals against per game and .908 save percentage.

“At the end of the day, to win hockey games in the NHL, you gotta have good goalies, and they are,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “And you know we’re excited to have them back there so they’ll do the job and just continue to get better.”

Both goalies saw more action than expected as Henrik Lundqvist, who the Caps signed to a 1-year deal before last season, was unable to take the ice after open heart surgery. Both Samsonov and Vanecek impressed during the regular season, but struggled in the playoffs as the Caps were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins in five games.

Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette does not see last season as a tough year for his netminders and believes they have a significant opportunity to take a big step forward this season.

“They’re both coming into a year where they’ve really taken on some experience with regard to the league, as trying to be that guy and be the person that takes the crease,” Laviolette said. “And so they have that whole year under their belt and we look for them to be better than that, better than they were last year.”