Most hockey fans know that Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is an All-Star-caliber player even though he’s never made such a team. Sometimes he needs to remind others why people hammer on that point.
The versatile Swede already has a goal and two assists in Game 2 for the Capitals, including this 3-3 goal in which he stupefied the New York Islanders’ penalty killers:
Yep, that’s pretty impressive.
Philipp Grubauer’s second appearance of the 2014-15 season will come in the playoffs, as the Washington Capitals announced that he will play in place of a sick Braden Holtby in Game 2.
Holtby had a rough Game 1 against the New York Islanders at times, yet he’s had a borderline Vezina-caliber breakthrough overall this season. Grubauer, meanwhile, won his lone NHL start during the season while putting up respectable numbers in the AHL (27-17-5 with a .921 save percentage for the Hershey Bears).
The Islanders boast a talented offense that made Washington look slow on Wednesday, so Grubauer’s really getting thrown right into the playoff fire tonight.
On the bright side, Holtby was largely unknown when he managed to play some great postseason hockey for the Dale Hunter-coached Capitals, so Washington isn’t totally unfamiliar with new faces leading them to nice places (Semyon Varlamov had a nice newbie run, too).
As far as beyond Game 2, the early word seems positive for Holtby, at least vaguely speaking.
The Capitals announced that goaltender Philipp Grubauer has been summoned from the AHL Hershey Bears.
Washington made the move because Braden Holtby is battling an illness, according to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt. It sounds like Holtby hasn’t been ruled out of Game 2 on Friday yet, but Washington is taking precautionary measures.
If Holtby can’t play then it will be interesting to see who coach Barry Trotz starts. Grubauer, 23, is a highly regarded goaltending prospect who has already enjoyed some success at the NHL level, but he doesn’t have any playoff experience. At the age of 28, Justin Peters has more overall experience, but he hasn’t played in a postseason game either. On top of that, Peters struggled in the backup role in 2014-15 with a 3.25 GAA and .881 save percentage in 12 contests.
It’s worth noting that the decision to summon Grubauer at this time likely wasn’t made lightly as Hershey is scheduled to play in its final two regular season games on Friday and Saturday. The Bears’ playoff spot is secure, but they’re still in a close battle for the Northeast Division title.