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Sportsnet analyst Kelly Hrudey criticizes Vitek Vanecek for injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Sportsnet analyst Kelly Hrudey, a former NHL goalie and part of the prestigious Hockey Night in Canada panel, was critical of the injury that knocked Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoff series vs. the Boston Bruins.
Vanecek exited the Caps’ Game 1 contest against the Bruins in the first period after going down to the splits in an attempt to save a shot off a faceoff by Boston's Jake DeBrusk. Not only was Vanecek unable to save the shot, it also appeared that he suffered a lower-body injury after stretching a bit too far to get to a shot that surprised him. Craig Anderson replaced Vanecek in net.
Hrudey, former NHL goalie of 16 years and current analyst for Sportsnet’s Hockey Night in Canada, thinks Vanecek could’ve done more to prevent his injury.
“I'm sorry, if you're an NHL goaltender you should not be pulling or straining a muscle. That's one of your jobs to make sure that you're stretched out,” Hrudey said during a first intermission discussion. “And whether that means you stretch eight to 10 times during the course of the day before the game to make sure this doesn't happen. You've got to be a better pro than that.”
Vanecek, 25, was making his postseason debut before exiting in the first period of Game 1. He’s been stellar all season for the Capitals at a vulnerable position, posting a 2.69 GAA and .908 save percentage. Hrudey still isn’t feeling sympathetic.
“I guess there's a part of me that I suppose I'm supposed to feel sorry for Vanacek. His first ever NHL playoff start. But first of all, this is a bad goal,” Hrudey said. “He just wasn't ready. You could tell immediately that something was wrong.”
Anderson, Vanecek’s replacement in net, stepped in just six days before his 40th birthday. It was only his fifth appearance all season -- yet another reason Hrudey was critical of Vanecek.
“And then it's unfair to the organization. It's unfair to Craig Anderson," Hrudey said. "Anderson in a week is going to be 40 years old. And I just think that when you're in that position, you've got to do all you can to make sure that you're stretched out. Now, if you have a different structural injury like you hurt your knee or your shoulder or your wrist, I'm all good with that and then I do feel empathy or sympathy for you. But not a pulled muscle.
The severity of Vanecek’s has yet to be determined. He did skip a few optional skates during the week of practice once Washington knew it was playing the Bruins for sure in the first round, but there was no indication entering the series that he was nursing an injury.