— Tarik El-Bashir⌨🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) February 24, 2018
Grubauer has started all of Washington’s games against the Sabres and will do so again Saturday night. Grubauer made 29 saves on 31 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Sabres at KeyBank Center on November 7 and 32 saves on 34 shots in a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday. He enters tonight with a 0.938 save percentage against the Sabres this season. Lifetime against the Sabres, he is 3-1-2 with a .952 save percentage and a 1.34 goals against average.
In his past 16 appearances prior to Monday’s game, Grubauer was 5-5-2 with a 2.14 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.
Grubauer has played in five games this month, two of them were relief appearances. He has stopped 74 of the 79 shots that came his way on the Caps’ recent four-game road trip, good for a 0.937 save percentage.
While Grubauer has played well as of late, another reason why the Capitals decided to go with Grubauer is because Braden Holtby is in the midst of a career-long five-game winless streak. Though, Capitals coach Barry Trotz said that it was planned to start Grubauer against the Sabres. He also added that Holtby played well against the Panthers on Thursday.
During the stretch, Holtby has given up 22 goals on 148 shots, good for a .851 save percentage. Despite the rough stretch, Holtby has played well at times. He made 40 saves on 44 shots against the Winnipeg Jets in a 4-3 overtime loss on February 13 and 30 saves and 33 shots on Thursday, a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.
Holtby got pulled in the Capitals’ game in Chicago last Thursday after two periods but it wasn’t his fault. He faced 33 shots through 40 minutes and stopped 27 in a 7-1 humbling at the hands of the Blackhawks.
Holtby’s save percentage had dragged down to a .909 and has a goals-against average of 2.95 due to his recent slump.
He will likely get a chance at redemption soon. The Capitals have a back-to-back against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday and the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and will likely start one of those games. Holtby has had success against those opponents going 14-3-2 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average in his career against Columbus and 8-3-1 with a .932 save percentage and a 2.07 goals against average against Ottawa. In addition, he has won each of his starts against those opponents this season. Perhaps that will help.
Every goalie goes through a slump but it will be up to Holtby to break it just like he has done with previous slumps in his career.
By Harrison Brown