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.
It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.
To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:
The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)
That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:
They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.
Cheap shot on a superstar, a little uncalled goalie interference and presto – Blue Jackets win!
The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.
You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.
That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:
Coach Bylsma: Feel like after Jack's goal, the game changed for us. #gamechanger