The Washington Capitals and head coach Spencer Carbery are riding the hot hand in net. Charlie Lindgren was the first goaltender off of the ice at Saturday’s morning skate and will get the nod to start against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
Lindgren will jump in goal for the fourth time in the team’s last six games. In those previous three starts, he has amassed a 3-0 record with a 1.01 goals-against average, .969 save percentage, and one shutout.
The 29-year-old netminder is coming off his best performance of the season so far against the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week. In that matchup, he stopped all 35 shots he faced and willed the Capitals to a victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“He was the win,” head coach Spencer Carbery said postgame. “Just fantastic all night. Go down the list of the breakaways, all the different saves in tight, some screening tips and rebound stuff, he had it all. Pass outs off their forecheck, they go right to F3, must have saw 3 or 4 of those. All sorts of different stops. The difference in the game.”
In the words of the birthday boy @JoeBpXp, Chuckie was "simply sensational" tonight.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 15, 2023
Saturday’s matchup will mark Lindgren’s first time starting two games in a row this season as Darcy Kuemper misses his fourth straight start.
“I understand the optics and questions and Darcy and how that will come into question, but at the same time it’s an 82-game schedule and I know that we’re going to need multiple goaltenders,” Carbery said Saturday. “And Charlie’s playing well and Charlie deserves to play again. I’m sure the roles will be reversed at some point but Charlie’s going to start tonight.”
Lindgren himself is feeling very good about his game. Among all NHL goaltenders, the Capitals’ normal backup backstop has totaled the fourth most goals saved above expected (8.7). Only the Boston Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman (9.1), St. Louis Blues’ Jordan Binnington (10.2), and Vancouver Canucks’ Thatcher Demko (12) rank above him.
“Tonight, just right from the puck drop, felt in the zone,” Lindgren said Tuesday. “I think I’ve got some really good momentum going right now. Feel good in practice, feeling good in games. I thought our guys again tonight did a lot of selling out, blocking shots. Coming up big in big moments. So big, big, big two points tonight.”
Regular starter Kuemper, has been dealing with some injury issues in the past couple of weeks which spurred on this opportunity for Lindgren. Kuemper was a full participant at practice on Friday and skated at the optional morning skate on Saturday but Carbery has been hesitant to give him a full, clean bill of health.
“We’ll have to check on how [Kuemper] responded to the practice,” Carbery said Friday. “I’ll get a report on how he feels post practice but he participated fully.”
The Capitals, who are 7-1-1 in their last nine outings, will take on the Blue Jackets on home ice with a 7:30 pm puck drop. The Capitals took down Columbus 2-1 two weeks ago and Lindgren was the starter in that game, stopping 34 of the 35 shots he faced.
Headline photo: Katie Adler/RMNB
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