After Capitals practice on Thursday, Barry Trotz was asked who would get the team’s next start between Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer. The Capitals play the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Naval Academy – the NHL’s latest outdoor game broadcast on network TV.
Trotz was coy in his response.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 1, 2018
“I have (decided on who’s starting), but I haven’t told them,” Trotz said. “So I can’t disclose that to you either.”
Trotz will likely reveal the starter after Friday’s practice or Saturday’s morning skate at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Coach has a difficult decision.
On one hand you have the hot hand in Philipp Grubauer who posted a .933 save percentage in the month of February. Grubauer has never started an outdoor game so giving him the nod would be a nice gesture for his recent and unheralded play. It also can’t be overlooked that Grubauer is playing better than Holtby at the moment. The Capitals need these two points to keep pace with the Penguins and Flyers in the Metropolitan Division and the Leafs have the Bruins breathing down their backs. This will not just be a fun gimmick game for these two clubs.
Then, on the other hand, you have the struggling Braden Holtby. Holtby’s arguably the best goaltender in franchise history and has won a Vezina Trophy. He also owns the second greatest career save percentage in NHL playoff history (.932 percent). While Holtby put up a lowly .873 save percentage in February, he is the goalie with the big game experience. Holtby has started two outdoor games in his career – one in Hershey in 2012 and the other against the Blackhawks at the 2015 Winter Classic. The sightlines in outdoor games can be tricky for goaltenders and Holtby has excelled in both of his outdoor starts. Sure, Holtby has struggled recently, but he’s a victim of playing in front of a bad defense during a bad stretch. A big win Saturday could spur him on for the rest of the season.
Who would I go with? Philipp Grubauer. With how the Caps defense is playing this year, you need to ride the hot hand. What say you?
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