Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
When you have started 249 games in the past four seasons like Braden Holtby has, the odds are that you start to get a little tired. That has been the case for Holtby as he went through his longest winless streak of his career of six games (0-4-2) recently. He performed well against Toronto, making 27 saves in a 5-2 win at the NHL Stadium Series last Saturday but had a rough night against the Ducks at Honda Center on Tuesday, stopping only six out of nine shots before getting pulled for his seventh loss in his last eight games.
Fortunately for the Capitals, they are able to give Holtby a break to reset before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next month because they have two number one goalies.
While Holtby has struggled with a save percentage of .816 during in his last eight games, backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer has performed sensational. He has a .975 save percentage at even strength since October 29, the highest save percentage in the NHL during that span.
Since that time, Grubauer is 9-6-2 and has a .968 save percentage and a 1.83 goals against average in 23 appearances and is 9-8-3 in 27 appearances this season with a .925 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average.
Grubauer has been great once again after Capitals’ coach Barry Trotz decided to turn to him for the final two games of the California road swing, recording a save percentage of .965 and the first shutout win of the season for the Capitals in a 2-0 win against the San Jose Sharks, making 24 saves. He also made 26 saves on 28 shots in the Capitals’ 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
Grubauer’s .925 save percentage is ranked eighth among all NHL goalies and is 2.25 goals against average is fourth.
With the luxury the Capitals have with two number one goalies on the roster, Grubauer’s dominance allows Holtby to rest and get out of his funk and gives the Capitals’ the comfort of doing so. He could make his third consecutive start when the Capitals host the Winnipeg Jets at Capital One Arena on Monday night, where he will be searching for his sixth win in his past seven starts.
By Harrison Brown