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Photo credit: Jay LaPrete

After giving up three goals in 22 minutes of game action, Philipp Grubauer was relieved from service in the Washington Capitals net. Grubi, who wasn’t getting much help from his teammates, skated off. On came Braden Holtby.

It was Holtby’s fourth appearance in the last month. You’d think he’d be rusty.

Nope.

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BradenNeinaber

Photo: @WashCaps

Braden Holtby has had a bad year, relegated to the bench for most of the last two months. Another Braden, though, has it worse. Eight-year-old Braden Neinaber of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan suffers from Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a disease similar to cancer.

Saturday, the two Bradens, along with Tom Wilson, Eric Fehr, and Olie Kolzig skated at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, a dream granted with the The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. The younger Braden faced off against his idol in net and got into a mock fight with Wilson. Afterwards, he got a tour of the Caps locker room and met head coach Adam Oates.

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Neuvirth salutes the crowd after being named the first star of the night. (Photo: Rob Carr)

Michal Neuvirth had been left behind in the Capitals goalie controversy. While Braden Holtby has struggled to find playing time, Neuvy hadn’t suited up for a game since November 29, when he got hurt stepping on the ice for warmups. Eventually, Neuvirth’s agent requested a trade. The status quo, though, continued. Philipp Grubauer got the starts, Holtby sat on the bench, and Neuvy watched from the press box. With little notice, Capitals head coach Adam Oates finally gave the Czech netminder a chance Friday.

“I was nervous as hell,” Neuvirth said of his thoughts before the game. “I was probably as nervous as my first NHL game. My girlfriend told me ‘Just do what you do and try to be good.’”

“First time I step on the ice for warmup, I was feeling pretty good and confident,” he added.

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Get to Know New Caps Goaltender Braden Holtby

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Photo credit: Matt Slocum

Fresh-faced Braden Holtby will be starting in net for the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. With Holtby relieving Caps #1 goalie Philipp Grubauer after two weeks of inactivity, this seems like the right time to get to know the new guy in the Capitals uniform, who — we have learned– goes by the nickname Holtby and is from the nation of Canada.

I had the opportunity to meet Braden during the lockout, when he was playing with the Hershey Bears. The conversation got pretty deep.

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Phillip Grubauer to Make 6th Start in 9 Games

Grubauer

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.

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With Washington Capitals management coaches someone deciding that it’s still a good idea to carry three goaltenders and ride a prospect’s hot hand, normal starter Braden Holtby rode the pine again. In fact, The Holtbeast has been benched for four of the Capitals’ last six games. Instead of sick split saves and fist pumps, we’ve been treated to images of Holtby sitting awkwardly in steel chairs and playing defense during practice.

Tonight, however, Holtby still managed to make an appearance during the game – though it was brief. And you had to really be looking for it.

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Braden Holtby Plays Defense During Practice (Photo)

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Photo credit: @Sydneyhasnever

The Washington Capitals are carrying three goaltenders right now. Why? Not sure. But with Philipp Grubauer earning another start tonight, Braden Holtby decided to take a shift or two on defense during this morning’s practice.

I’m in love with this photo right now. I’d take Holtby over Urbom any day of the week.

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Elsa

Photo credit: Elsa

Philipp Grubauer has played a little over five games of NHL hockey this season, and he’s been spectacular. Sporting a .940 save percentage, Grubi has been relied on to field a lot of pucks– 184 to be precise. Meanwhile, as Braden Holtby has struggled all December, there’s an understandable tendency to rank Grubauer above Holtby and dub him the team’s number-one goalie.

This would be unwise. In just six games of hockey, a .940 tell us very little. And in just six games of hockey, even the best goaltender in the world can look like a bum.

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There’s something about goalies hanging out in full gear away from the ice that is always funny. Like check out this Henrik Lundqvist commercial or Braden Holtby at Baltimore Arena. And now there’s this photo from Washington Capitals PR dude Pace Sagester. Above, check out Holtby and Michal Neuvirth smiling goofily for the camera.

You got goalie controversy on your mind because Philipp Grubauer is still on the team? Worried about Holtby’s last 10 days? Neuvy’s injury? Don’t sweat it. Here’s two dudes chilling in funny outfits, sitting in steel chairs, not a care in the world.

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Grubauer

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

For the first two months of the season, Braden Holtby was the Capitals’ rock. While the team struggled 5-on-5, Holtby’s excellent goaltending — despite facing some of the highest shot totals in the league — kept the team in games. The 24-year-old started every night from late October to early December, a span of 13 games. The workload, though, eventually caught up with him. After allowing three goals early against the Carolina Hurricanes in December, Holtby was pulled. Enter a new rock: Philipp Grubauer. After being called up in place of the injured Michal Neuvirth, Grubauer has played in five of seven games, starting three. He’s picked up three wins, posting a .937 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.06. He narrowly missed his first career shutout earlier this month.

“I soak it all in just being up here,” Grubauer told me. “I’ve been through almost every league: East Coast, AHL. It’s tough to get up here, but once you get up here you gotta make sure you stay. I’m just happy to be up here, and I work my butt off.”

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