While Braden Holtby is the main netminder in Washington, Phillipp Grubauer has looked impressive too. Serving as a backup goaltender coming in whenever Holtby isn’t between the pipes, Grubauer has put together some impressive numbers.
Last season when the Capitals faced the Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Caps were in a hole in the start of the series. Having already dropped Game 1, Holtby was sick prior to the second game. As a result, Grubauer stepped in for his first NHL playoff start. He stopped 18 shots and the Capitals evened the series with the 4-3 win.
So far this season Grubauer is 5-3-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He has appeared in three of the Capitals last four games. The first of that stretch was a start at home against the Ottawa Senators on January 10. While the game was overshadowed by Ovechkin’s 500-goal milestone, Grubauer looked impressive in net. He stopped 31 of 32 shots in a 7-1 win.
Grubauer’s other two appearances in that stretch came in relief. Saturday night in Buffalo was a rough game for Holtby and after he allowed the third goal of the game in the second period, he got pulled. Grubauer came in and only allowed one goal in the Caps 4-1 loss to the Sabres. Despite the lone goal, Grubauer did make 12 saves in his 32:46 of ice time.
On Sunday evening against the Rangers at Verizon Center, Holtby left the game late in the second period. It wasn’t because he allowed two goals in the game. This time it was due to dehydration. Grubauer came in relief once again and stopped all 11 of the shots he faced as the Capitals got a 5-2 win.
Holtby is still having an incredible season and has the potential to get a Vezina or Hart trophy at season’s end. But Capitals fans should feel very secure about the goaltending situation since Grubauer has also been playing well as a backup. Goaltending has been an issue with the Caps over the last several years but those days are long gone.
By Michael Marzzacco