Capitals

Capitals

Philipp Grubauer will start Game 1 of the Capitals' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The German netminder told the media Tuesday after practice that Barry Trotz is giving him the start in Game 1 over incumbent Braden Holtby.

"It's a privilege to start for sure, but it's just like any other game," Grubauer said. "We treat it as Game 1 or Game 82. It's not going to change any of my approach."

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Grubauer supplants Holtby, a Vezina Trophy finalist in each of the past two seasons and the winner of the award in 2016.

"Trust me, it wasn't an easy decision," Barry Trotz said. "I put a lot of factors in. Braden's been the guy for a long time. His body of work, especially since I've been here, I talked to him yesterday and said to him that weighed heavily on me because he's done so much for us."

 

The starting role for Washington became an issue when Holtby began to struggle in the latter half of the season. Holtby was pulled four times in 11 starts from Feb. 2 to March 6. During that stretch, he managed a 4.32 GAA and .878 save percentage.

Grubauer took the opportunity to start and ran with it. In fact, Grubauer has statistically been the best goalie in the NHL since Thanksgiving with a 1.93 GAA and .937 save percentage. Both numbers were the best in the NHL during that stretch among goalie who played in 25 games or more.

Grubauer set career highs in both games played (35) and starts (28) this season which he said has helped prepare him for the playoff run.

"It helps playing more and more," he said. "The more you get on the ice, the more experience you get there. If you sit on the bench, you're not going to get good from watching."

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This will mark the first time since 2011 a goalie other than Holtby wil be the Captials' starter heading into the postseason.

But that does not mean Holtby will not see any action this postseason.

Trotz stressed that Grubauer had only been declared the starter for Game 1.

"Game 1," Trotz  "We're going to go game by game."