Despite his team blowing a two-goal lead at home in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Washington head coach Barry Trotz is not about to make a change in net.
Philipp Grubauer will again get the start in goal for the Capitals for Game 2 Sunday night. Grubauer allowed four goals on 27 shots in a losing effort against the Blue Jackets Thursday, and while that's not typically grounds to make a change between the pipes, the Capitals have a very atypical goalie situation.
Grubaeur emerged as Washington's No. 1 goalie down the stretch this season, starting 10 of the final 16 games for the Capitals and going 8–2, helping the Caps lock up the Metropolitan Division championship. The German finished 15–10–3 in 28 starts, compiling a 2.35 GAA and a sterling .923 save percentage.
Now for what makes the situation unusual: the goalie he supplanted is Braden Holtby, winner of the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie just two years ago. He had even better numbers last season, finishing with a 2.07 GAA and a .925 saver percentage, but was edged out by Sergei Bobrovsky for the Vezina.
This season, Holtby has struggled, compiling a 2.99 GAA and stopping just 90% of the shots he faced. That's a far cry from the 2.16 GAA and .928 save percentage he was good for from 2014-17, winning 131 games in those three seasons.
Kempny Expected to Play
Washington will get a boost on the blue line Sunday night with the return of Michal Kempny. The 27-year-old defenseman left Game 1 late in the first period of Game 1 after taking a hit on the boards from the Blue Jackets' Josh Anderson.
Anderson was awarded a game misconduct and a major penalty for boarding which led to a pair of power play goals 29 seconds apart from Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Kempny, who was acquired in a mid-February trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, gets shifts on Washington's third defensive pairing, so the Caps are getting more depth than skill with his return. In two NHL seasons, he has 18 points and is +15 in 103 regular season games.
Jay Beagle Back?
The Capitals could also see the return of Jay Beagle for Game 2. The center has been out with an upper body injury suffered April 1 in a 3-1 road win over the Penguins, but the fourth-liner was on the ice, practicing with his teammates Saturday.
Beagle has seven goals and 15 assists in 79 games for the Caps this season, but won nearly 59% of his faceoffs on the year. With the Blue Jackets winning 55% of the draws in Game 1, the 10-year vet could help Washington here.