Phillip Grubauer to Make 6th Start in 9 Games


Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

For the seventh time in nine games, Philipp Grubauer will be in net for the Washington Capitals, his sixth start during that span. That means Braden Holtby, the Caps’ savior for the first two months of the season, will be watching from the bench once again. Michal Neuvirth continues to remain in limbo.

“He’s only played a couple games but I feel comfortable with him right now,” head coach Adam Oates said of Grubauer after the morning skate.

After playing in just two NHL games before this year, Grubauer has quickly become Oates’s number one option, posting a 2.20 goals against average and a .934 save percentage in seven games this season. That has left Holtby, with his 3.00 GAA and .915 save percentage, sulking. Oates shown little hesitancy to pull Holtby if the Capitals get down early. Neuvirth, meanwhile, has suggested he might be better off somewhere else.

Meanwhile, the Rangers have a goalie controversy of their own. Rookie Cam Talbot will be making his third straight tonight over Henrik Lundqvist, who signed a seven-year, $59.5 million contract earlier this month.

“I think part of it is because of the schedule this year,” Oates said of backups deposing starters, referring to the Olympic break. “You look at teams, there’s nights when the team looks good. Next night, the team looks bad. I think goalies are a part of that.”

“You look at the team we’re playing tonight,” Oates added. “I don’t think anyone in their mind thinks there’s anything is going on. Henrik said ‘I got to play better a little better.’ That’s it.”

  • Jack Conness

    It is getting ridiculous keeping three goaltenders. Neuvy has to go ASAP.

  • Louis Porter

    If Oates isn’t careful Holtby will be asking for a trade!

  • Eric

    all of this is bs and starting to annoy me…i feel bad for Holts and really bad for Neuvy , i mean Holtby yea has some iffy games at times but more than not he stands on his head for a very lacking defense that just leave him out to dry, this will come to bite us in the butt sooner or later, you have Erat wanting a trade and now Neuvy who would be open to the idea, well when will or when won’t GMGM do anything about it, make a package deal and get a good D-man out of it if you have to

  • JenniferH

    Oates is crazy if thinks that people don’t wonder what is going on. I’m certainly wondering if something is going on with Holts. And I’m getting worried. 🙁

  • Yes, Neuvy — with possibly the lowest trade value of his career — must go over the guy who has unlimited options to the minors.

  • Dezlboy

    Carrying three goalies for a bit wouldn’t be the worst move Oates has made this year. 🙂 I like Holtby, but he consistently lets in tooooo many easy grabs. Maybe he isn’t the one? But, does he have trade value either?

  • Freedoooom

    “You look at the team we’re playing tonight,” Oates added. “I don’t think anyone in their mind thinks there’s anything is going on. Henrik said ‘I got to play better a little better.’ That’s it.”

    Maybe Holtby should take the hint. Holtbys played awful and gotten pulled, the coaches were doing something simple, letting the players sit quietly on the bench.

    Neuvy hasn’t been given much chances by Oates and has a .912 thanks to low amount of games played and some truly awful games by the team in front of him, 2nd Calgary game, and the really unlucky one against the Avalanche. Holtby only has a .915.

    Holtby has been given so much by Oates to the point of him feeling entitled, and having hissy fits on the bench when he gets pulled and I guess those work, because Oates has shown hes afraid to pull Holtby.

  • C Breezy

    I do not like to pile on but I feel like one of the issues this organization has is that we are constantly “showing our hands” way way way too early when it comes to moves we want to make, and our evaluation of our own players. Locally, people in the organization, the press, and even fans have thought that Grubby was an NHL quality goaltender (a draft ROBBERY) for years. Now he has, in a small sample, proven it. By continuing to play him, we have now shown all other GMs that we are fully comfortable with Grubby as our #2, if not our #1, which SIGNIFICANTLY lowers the value of the other goalie that we need to ship out doesn’t it?

    If, as a GM, you decide you want to ship Holtby or Neuvy, why is the move to devalue them by not playing them? Don’t you want to play them, hope they are amazing but be alright with them being serviceable, and then get better value in return? Maybe I’m missing something here? How did we go from the confident (and I think well executed) Varlamov trade to this madness?

    To me the most logical series of events should be to send Grubby back to Hershey. Platoon Holtby and Neuvy, actually giving Neuvy a chance to develop some sort of rhythm, and then trade the one you decide you don’t want. Call up Grubby, goalies happy.

    Orlov and Erat are also prime examples of this problem but don’t fit in this thread and the dynamics are different due to them not being tenders. Help me out here, what is going on?

  • riggorules

    I’m for giving Holtby the start, but I don’t really have sympathy for any of these trade demands. Why is getting benched all of a sudden justification for demanding a trade? I disagree with burying Orlov, Erat and Neuvy at times this season, but going public with a trade request is scr3wing your organization over sour grapes. Sorry for mini-rant.

  • I don’t think Neuvy’s .912 has much to do with the number of shots he’s faced.

  • Holtby or Grubauer would probably net something somewhat decent in a trade. The thing is, I disagree with you about Holtby. I believe that he is the only one of the three that has proven that he is an above average goaltender in this league.

    The other thing is: It would be silly to get arid of any of the three at this moment. Goaltender — I think — is the team’s one actual strength.

    I would keep moving forward with Holtby and Neuvy (Grubauer in minors) unless they get swept off their feet with a trade offer. This team needs an above average defenseman. Maybe one of these guys could net them that.

    Beyond Grubauer, they have no other young talented prospects in the system. So they need to be careful on their next move here with these guys.

  • Dezlboy

    Can’t disagree with you. By this time next year one of them likely will have been traded. We need a D-man, but a good D-man and average goalie (if we trade the wrong one!) isn’t the answer. Thanks for your response!

  • Owen

    i love holtby and i am warming up to grubi. but above all, i like wins, and at the moment, holtby isn’t playing as well as we all know he can. oates is going with grubi to win games, not because he has a vendetta against holts. neuvy could actually start for a lot of teams in the league, and i think if GMGM was smart, he’d try to exploit that to get a good d-man

  • Psh. No problem! Thank you more for reading and hanging out!

  • Michael Reschly

    “Put Gruby in net for a handful of games. If we like what we see out of him, we’ll give you (these players, those picks) for Erat+Gruby..”

    Is that the sort of thing an NHL GM would say? If a GMGM heard that from another team, would he get Gruby into games?

    Trying to think of things that would explain what we’re seeing.

  • FoolsRushLandHannityIn

    Holtby carried the team for two months. Does anyone really think Grubauer can play at a high level night after night in the playoffs (“playoffs! playoffs?”) like Holtby has proved he can?
    How about carrying the play by forechecking and crashing the net? Keep the SOG under 35? If you need >.930 GT to win that’s just freaking impossible.

  • FoolsRushLandHannityIn

    Exactly. Both Holtby & Neuvy are proven NHL-caliber goalies but Neuvy needs to stay healthy. If they didn’t have to guess (& hope) that ___???___ can throw up a brick wall to win, that’s the problem, not the GT play.

  • Jonathan Kenny

    While I feel that Grubie has earned the starts he is getting based on his play, I would like to spend the bulk of this post in defense of…Michal Neuvirth. This is at least partially inspired by Ian’s sentiment that Holtby is the only one of the three who has proven himself to be an above average goaltender in the NHL.

    In game 2 vs Calgary Neuvy entered in relief of starter Holtby, who had given up 3 goals in the 1st period (roughly 11 minutes of net time) and had largely been mediocre in his two starts, and proceeded to win the game in a SO. He really was the key to the Caps first win of the season, giving up only 1 goal in 28 SOG (.964 Sv%) and even drawing a key penalty that allowed the (then) Caps deadly PP to score. His reward for that outing was watching from the bench in game 3 as Holtby was inexplicably given the start. Usually winning goalies are rewarded w/ the start the next game; but, more importantly, by his play compared to Holtby up to that point in the season, Neuvirth demonstrated that he deserved to start game 3. Adam Oates decided instead to wait nine days before giving Neuvirth the start, which ironically came versus Colorado, who at the time were best in the league and undefeated. COL brought their physical play and it was Neuvy’s worst game of the year; he gave up 5 goals in a game that collectively for the Caps “descended into burn the tape territory” according to RMNB. The whole team was awful. Incidently, Neuvy relieved an awful Holtby, who again gave up 3 goals in the 1st period, the next time the Caps faced the Flames; but he was not able to pull out the win. Versus VAN Neuvirth lost a 3-2 decision but had to make twice as many saves as his counterpart Luongo in net mostly because he faced more than twice as many shots on goal (41 SOG w/ 38 saves .927 Sv%). Luongo only saw 19 SOG his way. He was largely the reason the Caps were even in the game. Once again, Holtby started the next game. In Neuvy’s 4 most recent complete game starts he has faced an average of 35 SOG, giving up 2.75 goals/game (.922 Sv%) in these four games. Currently Holtby has a 3.00 GA average (.915 Sv%) compared to Neuvy’s 2.83 (.912 Sv%), though, of course, Holtby has a much larger sample size. Did I mention Holtby giving up two soft goals in the Caps pathetic 4-0 loss to the Pens. Oh, let’s not go there.

    In 2010-11 Neuvirth played 48 regular season games and posted a 2.45 GAA. (.914). Holtby’s best GAA in a season with at least 25 games played is 2.58 (.920).

    As for the playoffs, Holtby has an impressive 2.04 GAA in 21 games compared to Neuvy’s very respectable 2.34 GAA in 9 games. A couple of things need to be considered behind these playoff stats. Holtby’s best playoffs was under Dale Hunter’s very defensive style of team play, which surely helped him in net. He has faced the offensively challenged NYR twice and BOS once. Neuvy also faced NYR but also had to face TBL, an offensive juggernaut. The Lightning averaged 3.28 G/G during those playoffs. Four times the Bolts put up at least 5 goals against eventual Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas and the Bruins. At least 5 goals twice vs. the Pens. They scored 5 once versus the Caps, but that was in G4, which the Caps went into largely mentally defeated being down 3-0 in the series. I’m not convinced that Holtby would have prevented the Caps from being swept in that series; the Caps simply couldn’t handle Tampa’s speed in transition or the Lightning power-play.

    I am not trying to argue that Neuvirth is better than Holtby or Grubauer; time will tell. But I do think he deserves a bit more respect than he is getting this year from Adam Oates and some on this page. There can be no denying that Holtby has been nothing but average this year; his spectacular games have been counterbalanced by some clunkers.

  • bskillet

    Could be possible I guess that Grubauer is playing because…umm, we’re winning with him in net for now??