Coach Barry Trotz did not make any changes to his forward combos or defensive pairs of ahead of Friday’s showdown with the NHL-best Lightning.
He did, however, make a significant change elsewhere: Philipp Grubauer will get the nod against the Bolts as the Caps begin a tough back-to-back set that wraps up Saturday night in Toronto.
It’ll be Grubauer’s second start on home ice this season.
“Just to change a little bit of the order there,” Trotz explained. “Grubi has worked hard. It gives him an opportunity at home.”
Grubauer, who turns 26 on Saturday and has family in town, is still searching for his first win of the season. He’s 0-5-1 with a 3.86 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. In fairness, though, he’s drawn some tough assignments. In fact, four of his six starts have been the backend of a back-to-back.
“More than anything,” Trotz added, “he just deserved it.”
There’s also this: Grubauer is 3-0-1 vs. the Lightning in his career, with a .923 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.
Asked how much matchups factor into goaltending decisions, Trotz said: “A little bit but not really. I wanted to give him a home start, so why not now?”
With Grubauer set to face Nikita Kucherov and Co., Braden Holtby figures to get the Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
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