One of the hottest topics among Caps Nation over the last several weeks has been about the goaltenders. When a game is on the horizon, no matter who the Washington Capitals are up against, the debates go down on who should start in goal. Barry Trotz has implemented a goalie rotation to close out the regular season but today NoVa Caps wants you to pretend you’re Coach Trotz. Pretend you observed and evaluated both goalies. If you were Trotz, who would YOU start in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
34-16-4, 2.99 GAA, .907 save percentage
Braden Holtby has been an established goalie in Washington ever since the moment he shined in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs when his play helped lead the Caps to an upset over the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. Known by fans as the “Holtbeast”, his resume includes a 48-win season in 2015-16 that tied him with the legendary Martin Broudeur for the most regular season wins. That season also saw Holtby win a Vezina Trophy, an annual award that goes to the top goaltender of the year. The following season, Holtby finished with 42 wins and was a finalist for the Vezina.
This season Holtby finished with a 34-16-4 record. From the outskirts, that doesn’t look like bad numbers, but from previous seasons, Holtby has a career-high goals-against average and a career-low save percentage. Part of it was from a bad stretch from February 11 through March 6 when he posted a record of 1-5-2 allowing 31 goals to the opposition.
Recently, Holtby has found his game. He’s won four of his last five starts with a save percentage of .916. During his last start against the New Jersey Devils in the regular season finale, Holtby stopped 23-of-26 shots.
15-10-3. 2.35 GAA, .923 save percentage
Philipp Grubuauer has been a reliable backup and a sidekick to Holtby over the last three seasons. He’s also no stranger to the playoffs. Back in 2015, Grubauer got the start in Game 2 of the first round against the Islanders after Holtby was sick. With the Caps trailing in the series 1-0, the team counted on Grubuaer to give them the momentum right back and he delivered stopping 18-of-21 shots in a 4-3 win.
This season Grubauer has won 15 games which mark a career-high. Since the All Star break, Grubuaer 11-4-0 with a .929 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average. Like Holtby, Grubauer also comes into the playoffs having won four of his last five with a .929 save percentage.
Who will start Game 1?
By Michael Marzzacco