It's the inescapable question for the Capitals as they head towards the playoffs. Who will start in goal?
Goalie is the most important position on the ice. With the playoffs rapidly approaching you could be forgiven for being a bit nervous by the fact that the goaltending situation in Washington remains unsettled.
The issue seems to be on the mind of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, as well.
While speaking to the media at Capital One Arena on Thursday, Leonsis was asked about his confidence heading into the postseason. This is not the same Presidents' Trophy-winning squad we have seen the past two seasons after all.
"I'm a grown-up about what happens in the playoffs in that everyone starts from zero-zero and anything can happen," Leonsis said. "Playoffs come and goaltending really, really matters. My big hope is that we have two healthy goaltenders entering into the playoffs, that having great goaltending and great depth in goaltending is something that really, really matters on the long-grind."
Just a few months ago, Braden Holtby was the undisputed starter and workhorse. As a Vezina Trophy winner, he was regarded as one of the top netminders in the league.
Then the struggles began.
In a stretch of just over a month, from Feb. 2 to March 6, Holtby managed only a .878 save percentage, a 4.32 GAA and was pulled four times. Philipp Grubauer, meanwhile, has been fantastic throughout the season, first in spot duty and then in relief of Holtby while he reset. Now, in the past week, Pheonix Copley has been recalled to Washington twice due to minor injuries to both Holtby and Grubauer, Holtby is working his way back to form and Grubauer, who has never been leaned upon as the No. 1, remains a relative unknown.
All the while the playoffs get closer and closer.
The playoff history of the Capitals is well known at this point. Having a question as to who will start in net this close to the postseason is not an ideal situation.
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The silver-lining to all of this is the fact that both goalies have played well of late. The issue is not choosing between two struggling netminders, but choosing between a player who has been consistently great but who has struggled recently and a backup who is unknown but has looked great.
But the recent injuries, though minor, are a cause for concern and the playoffs have shown time and time again just how crucial goaltending can be. No one player can sway a series the way a goalie can.
For a Capitals team that, on paper, is not as skilled as it once was, Leonsis knows goaltending will be key.
"I'm happy with the way both our goaltenders have started to play now and we can be dangerous if our goaltending is really, really strong," he said. "We have great forwards, we have experienced backend, but it will come down to goaltending."