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Braden Holtby set to start for the Capitals at Carolina on Friday

Braden Holtby set to start for the Capitals at Carolina on Friday

Braden Holtby is expected to make his third start of the preseason Friday night in Raleigh, where the Capitals face the Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Watch it on CSN at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the rest of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom-less lineup (based on the morning skate):










A few notes:

*Holtby is expected to go the distance, while Philipp Grubauer backs him up. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 1-0-0 with a .949 save percentage and a 1.30 goals against average. So, yeah, he’s picked up right where he left off last season.

*Sanford is back on the wing after centering the third line in Kansas City on Wednesday night. With Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle occupying center spots 1-4, the fact that Coach Barry Trotz keeps trying Sanford on the wing suggests that they’re intent on finding a spot in the lineup for the Boston College product. He has a goal and five shots on net in three contests.

*With only one exhibition left (Sunday against the Islanders), there are some forwards who are still searching for their first point of the preseason. Among them are Brett Connolly (four games), Stanislav Galiev (three) and Brad Malone (two). With Sanford in good position to snag a spot on the 23, space is indeed getting tight.

RELATED: Caps go golfing on off day, hilarity ensues

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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.