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.”