Source: Online Kicker
NoVa Caps recently had the opportunity to speak with Philipp Grubauer, the Capitals back-up goalie, about the Capitals season opener tonight against the Penguins, his experience with Team Europe and his unique pre-game routines.
While Grubauer is looking forward to the Capitals season opener in Pittsburgh, against the team’s perennial nemesis, he sadly admits, “Everybody is a little bit heartbroken, because that could have been us [the Capitals] standing in Washington and raising the banner”.
However, he feels that the Capitals must use the Penguins’ opening ceremonies as motivation to fuel their drive to win. “We need to think about how we were so close last year and we could have beat them [Penguins] and moved on to the finals.” While he is pleased that the Capitals won the President’s Trophy last year, he also knows, “Expectations are pretty high this year. I think that [winning the President’s Trophy] should be the goal this year too. That’s the way we play for the Stanley Cup”.
Grubauer hopes to improve his own performance as well, “I tried last year to impress and improve every game and the same thing happens this year”. Humbly, he expressed to me some disappointment in his performance, “I didn’t get the results maybe I wanted” he said disappointedly, “Maybe, at the end, I lost a few too many game. I’ve got to make sure I win those games and to get the points for the team”.
This year though, Grubauer is ready. He feels his participation on Team Europe helped him prepare for the regular season, “I came into camp basically in mid-season form,” he told me, which will help him to be ready when he is called to take the net for Braden Holtby.
Honored to Participate with Team Europe
Many may feel that the World Cup was a distraction to the regular season, but Grubauer feels it helped him get ready to play. He played in an Olympic team qualification round before the World Cup, so he’s been busy since mid-August, which he told me helped him be ready for the season.Though he does admit it was a little bit hard to get in and get the ice conditioning going again, which for the guys that went to the World Cup, it’s already been done.Overall, he feels that his participation on Team Europe makes it easier to, “come in with a couple games under your belt”.
Grubauer, was awed by the opportunity to represent Team Europe during the World Cup of Hockey and to work with the high caliber of coaches and players from around the league. “It was awesome,” he told me. “The coaching staff was unreal. You looked in the locker room [Marian] Hossa, [Marian] Gaborik, [Zdeno] Chara, [Dennis] Seidenberg, those guys have been in the league for many, many years and won a couple cups together”.
Grubauer loved being part of the World Cup action in Toronto. “It was fun being a part of it. The whole tournament in Toronto, the whole set up from the league was pretty amazing”. Expectations for Team Europe were low, in fact, having lost both exhibition games against Team North America – one as a shut out – many fans and analysts projected them to make an early exit from the tournament. “I guess nobody expected that we would go that far” he said. After facing those tough losses and odds many teams would have imploded, instead, Grubauer feels that Team Europe used it as an opportunity, “We grew as a team” he stated confidently. “We got better and better and I think if you would have given us another game, or two games, we could have beat Canada too”!
Gru’s Pre-Game Routines
Routines and superstitions are certainly not unique to goaltenders or the NHL. Holtby’s pre-game routines are legend within the team and league and Grubauer is certainly no exception, “Everybody has their own routines,” he told me, “Everybody has a routine and everybody sticks to it, especially if times are not going so well. You’re going to stick to your routine and make sure what has gotten you there is your routines and how you’ve played in the past”. For Grubauer, his routines are simple and constant, “I do the same things before every game, I sleep. I eat the same food [salmon and pasta]. I juggle the ball to make sure my eyes are going. I play soccer. Every day it’s the same preparation”.
By Stephanie Judge