While it has been known for a few days now, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has won the William M. Jennings Trophy for playing for the team that allowed the fewest goals (182) during the regular season.
The qualification for being eligible to win the award is to have played at least 25 games for the team that allows the fewest goals during the regular season. Unfortunately, backup netminder Philipp Grubauer fell just short of qualifying for the award, playing just 23 games. However, it’s likely every Capitals fan would say he deserves to have his name on the trophy as well.
While the trophy is more of a team award, Holtby did more than his part in helping them accomplish it. Once again, the former fourth-round pick (93rd overall in 2008) is a favorite to capture the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie, having finished the 2016-17 regular season with a record of 42-13-6, a 2.07 goals-against average (GAA), .925 save percentage, and a league-leading nine shutouts. After winning the Vezina last season, Holtby followed that up with yet another strong campaign, putting his name in the conversation to be the NHL’s best netminder.
Grubauer also did his part, finishing the season with a 13-6-2 record, .926 save percentage, 2.05 GAA, and three shutouts in 23 games played (19 starts). Throughout the season, Grubauer proved himself worthy of being a starter in the league, something that won’t be lost come this summer, when Grubauer’s current contract expires.
The Capitals are very fortunate to have the best starting goaltender in the National Hockey League and arguably, the best backup in the league, as their goaltending duo. Credit is also due to goalie coach Mitch Korn, whose vast knowledge and experience in working with Vezina-caliber goalies (legendary goalie Dominik Hasek won three Vezinas under Korn during his time with the Buffalo Sabres) has been instrumental in transforming the two former fourth-round picks into elite netminders.
NoVa Caps congratulates Holtby, Grubauer, the entire Capitals team, and Coach Korn on winning this award!
By Michael Fleetwood