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Philipp Grubauer named Capitals starter for Game 1 against Columbus Blue Jackets

Philipp Grubauer named Capitals starter for Game 1 against Columbus Blue Jackets

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."

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Sergei Ovechkin meets baby brother Ilya

Sergei Ovechkin meets baby brother Ilya

Where would we be through this pause in the NHL season without baby news? Alex Ovechkin is now a father of two with the birth of his son Ilya on Wednesday. After a few years of Sergei stealing the hearts of Capitals fans, no doubt Ilya will be as cute and fans can't wait to meet him...but we'll have to get in line.

Before we can meet Ilya, he first had to meet big brother Sergei. Luckily, the moment was captured on camera and shared on Instagram.

It's as adorable as you would expect.

Let's get these kids on the ice!

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Report: NHL training camps won't start before July 10

Report: NHL training camps won't start before July 10

Tuesday's announcement of the NHL's return to play plan was a step in the right direction towards resuming the 2019-20 season, but we are still a long way off from that point. According to a report from TSN's Pierre LeBrun, NHL training camps will not start before July 10.

That does not mean July 10 is now the set return date, it simply means training camps will not begin before then.

The NHL has organized its return to play plan into four phases. Opening training camps is considered Phase 3 of that plan. The league is still in Phase 1, which is self-isolation.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday he was hopeful Phase 2, players returning to team facilities for voluntary activities, could begin in late June. Even if that were the case, an early July return for training camps would have been ambitious. Given that, the report that camps would not be able to return until at least mid-July should come as no surprise.

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As for how this will affect the 2020-21 season, the NHL has been adamant that it intends to hold a full 82-game season, even if it means pushing the start back into December and cutting out both the All-Star game and bye weeks. For now, there is no reason to think that plan will change based on LeBrun's report.

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