With the formidable Braden Holtby struggling at times during the latter part of this 2017-18 season, the Washington Capitals have had to rely on back up goaltender Philipp Grubauer to secure their division title for the third consecutive year. Grubauer has stayed strong for the Capitals and has gracefully picked up the slack, proving yet again that he is ready for more responsibility.
Philipp Grubauer Obvious Choice For The Washington Capitals
Since the German goalie’s debut in 2012, the 26-year-old has been quietly achieving greatness under the radar. However, It has not been until this season that the Capitals truly appreciate his value. If the last game against Pittsburgh Penguins is to be used as evidence, Grubauer has far surpassed backup goalie level. He faced 37 shots against and only conceded one goal against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
With the regular season coming to an end, Grubauer is holding onto an impressive save percentage of .925% and a goals against average of 2.29. This places the backup around 6th-8th in the National Hockey League. Achieving similar standards as starting goalies John Gibson and Tuukka Rask, who have already become extremely established goaltenders. With Grubauer consistently performing it leads to a potential dilemma for the Capitals, which goalie will be chosen to lead in the playoff push?
So. I think Philipp Grubauer may have just won the starting job for the playoffs.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 2, 2018
Grubauer Versus Holtby
Con’s For Holtby To Start
There is no argument that Holtby is a superior goaltender, the Jennings Trophy Winner has been consistently solid throughout his career. However, this recent funk has made him less reliable. This season the 28-year-old has what some consider a career low, with a .907 save percentage and a 3.01 goals against average. Not only this but the Canadian native does not appear to be himself, there was a glimmer at his last game against St Louis Blues but it may be a case of a little too late.
Comparing this to Grubauer’s statistics the number 31 jersey seems to be the most logical choice to start the playoffs. Grubauer is on a hot streak, as captain Alex Ovechkin highlighted last week in the post-game interview.
“He was unstoppable,” the Russian forward stated. “He was unbelievable. I think he reads the play well. He makes unbelievable saves, keep us in the game.”
That hot streak, as well as a good track record against the Penguins, will give Grubauer an added advantage to become selected to start in the playoffs.The Pens have crushed the Capitals playoff hopes all too often. Their penalty unit is fearsome. Grubauer has a powerplay save percentage of .955 %, so if Barry Trotz decides to start Grubauer, it could change things up this year.
Con’s For Grubauer
One thing that may give Holbty a nudge forward is Grubauer’s lack of experience in the playoffs. During his time with the Capitals, the Rosenheim native has only played in two playoff games, with only one start. The Capitals have been lacking defensively this season, this lack of experience may potentially unravel the team at crunch time. The Capitals are well known to choke under playoff pressure.
— WashTimesSports (@WashTimesSports) March 19, 2018
Washington Need To Stay Hungry.
It’s clear statistically that Grubauer should play a vital role in the Capitals playoff run this year. After so much disappointment in previous efforts, Barry Trotz needs to shake things up and input some hunger into the team. With Grubauer between the pipes, it would give Washington a boost that has been evident through the last half of the season. Although it would also be a concern as the Capitals can be so inconsistent at times. Often losing focus during the later stages of games. As it stands the Capitals could face the New Jersey Devils, who are having a tremendous comeback into the playoffs. They are a team this is all about passion and intensity. The Capitals need to stay strong not only between the pipes but as a whole team to do well.
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