Capitals Name Philipp Grubauer Starting Goalie For Game 1 Against Blue Jackets

Capitals’ goaltender Philipp Grubauer told the media on Tuesday that he will be starting Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at 7:30 at Capital One Arena. 

The Capitals split the last 10 games between goaltenders and Grubauer won four of his five starts during that span. Grubauer also started what was arguably the Capitals’ biggest game of the season earlier this month against the Pittsburgh Penguins, making 36 saves in a 3-1 win to clinch the Metropolitan Division crown on April 1.

Grubauer started the year winless in his first six appearances, due in large part to a lack of goal-support from the offense.  Since November 24, Grubauer had a .937 save percentage and a 1.93 goals against average to lead the league. He was 15-5-2 in that span. For the season, Grubauer went 15-10-3 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.35 goals against average.

Grubauer and Holtby spoke about the decision following Tuesday’s practice.

After Braden Holtby went through a 1-5-2 stretch in February, Trotz opted to go with Grubauer for a stretch, and he ended the season with seven wins in his last nine games — including two shutouts. Statistically, Holtby had the worst season of his career with a career-high 2.99 goals against average and a career-low .907 save percentage. Despite that, Holtby had a strong 34-16-4 record, though he failed to hit the 40-win mark for the first time in four seasons. He was a Vezina Trophy finalist each of the past two seasons and won the award in 2015-16 when he tied Martin Brodeur for the NHL wins in a single season record at 48.

Despite a string of exceptional regular-season performances, Holtby struggled in the postseason last year, with a .909 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average, his worst numbers in his playoff career. Even with that record, his .932 save percentage in the playoffs is second-best among active goalies.

Grubauer, a 26-year old German, has appeared in three contests against the Blue Jackets in his career but has a 0-1-1 record in those contests with a .915 save percentage and a 2.48 goals against average.

Grubauer has started one playoff game in his career, filling in for an ill Holtby in Game 2 of the 2015 series against the New York Islanders in the first round. Grubauer made 18 saves on 21 shots in a 4-3 win. He also replaced Holtby in a 6-2 loss in Game 2 vs. the Penguins last season, making seven saves on nine shots in the third period.

Trotz said that they will go game-by-game with the goalies, so his starter for Game 2 has not been decided yet.

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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