With a pair of strong starts in the first seven games, Philipp Grubauer is giving the Capitals every reason to believe he can handle the heavier workload they want him to shoulder this season.
Grubauer registered a spectacular 18-save shutout against the Avalanche on Oct. 18, the first shutout of his NHL career.
He followed that up Saturday night with a 25-save performance that helped lift the Capitals to a 5-2 victory in Vancouver.
The backup stopped all six shots he faced in the third period, ensuring that Washington remained the NHL's stingiest team in the final frame (just three goals against).
“I thought it was good,” Coach Barry Trotz told reporters in Vancouver, referring to Grubauer’s effort against the Canucks.
“They got some nice rebounds; there were two rebounds goals. But I thought that it was really key that he made the key save at the key moment…He’s been good for us.”
Entering Sunday’s games, Grubauer owned the league's fifth-best save percentage (.953) and second-best goals against average (1.00).
Just as important, though, Grubauer’s hot start figures to give Trotz the confidence to turn to him more often as the team seeks to better manage Braden Holtby’s workload this season.
Due to the World Cup of Hockey and a bye week for each team, the schedule is compressed and the need to spell the No. 1 goalie is going to be greater.
Last season, Grubauer started two games of the first 10 games. This season, he’s already started two of the first seven contests.
After beating the Canucks, Grubauer credited his early success to an earlier-than-usual start this offseason.
“I didn’t make too many changes,” Grubauer said. “It’s kind of nice to get the win and the shutout. I think what really helped was getting an early start in August with the Olympic qualification [with the German national team] and then participating in the World Cup [with Team Europe]."
“When you have the best shooters in front of you,” he added, “it helps you see the puck. It helped me coming back to Washington.”
Holtby is expected to return to the net Sunday night in Calgary.
Capitals GameTime begins at 9 p.m. on CSN+. Puck drop is at 9:30, also on CSN+.
RELATED: CAPITALS VS. CANUCKS GAMETHREAD