Rookie goalie Philipp Grubauer will start again tonight when his Capitals visit the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
“We still have confidence in all our goalies,” said coach Adam Oates, “but he’s obviously been the hot guy, so we’re going with him.”
Grubauer, 22, is 6-2-5 with a .936 save percentage, numbers that compare favorably to Oates’ other two options, Braden Holtby (13-11-2, .910) and Michal Neuvirth (3-4-1, .913).
What’s more, the Caps have just two wins in their last nine and find themselves clinging to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. So Oates’ decision doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that Holtby hasn’t played since Jan. 4, almost two weeks ago, when he allowed five goals on just 11 shots in a confidence-shaking 5-3 loss to the Wild. And that start came two weeks after his next-to-last one, on Dec. 21, when he let in five goals versus the Devils. Which came four days after allowing five goals versus the Flyers.
So to recap: Holtby has started three times in the last month. All three times he’s allowed five goals and the Caps have lost.
Not that all goalies don’t go through tough stretches, but Holtby is still relatively unproven in the NHL. He’s only 24, and he only has 81 career starts, plus 21 more in the playoffs. Though his career numbers remain excellent (.919 SV% in the regular season; .931 playoffs), he’s certainly facing some adversity now.