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Grubauer to get more starts in final stretch of the season

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Grubauer to get more starts in final stretch of the season

At the start of February in 2015, the Caps had 33 games remaining in their regular season schedule. Braden Holtby ended up playing in 30 of those games. His workload won't be quite as heavy this year.

With the Caps locked in a tight race in the standings and backup justin Peters struggling (.881 save percentage in 2014-15), Holty was called upon to carry the team on his shoulders out of sheer necessity. Holtby may be a goalie who likes to play as often as possible, but starting 72 games as he did in that season is hardly what anyone would call an ideal situation.

This season, however, he won't have to.

In his first full season at the NHL level, goaltender Philipp Grubauer seems to be growing into his new role behind Holtby.

RELATED: Trotz says Johansson unlikely to play Tuesday

"First half was a little bit different for me to adjust," Grubauer said. "Obviously I don't play as much as I used to in the last years, but now I got some quality time with [goalie coach Mitch Korn]. ... It's a little bit tougher if you don't play every game, you don't start to get in a groove and it's just getting used to be ready on the bench. That's what I'm trying to do."

In 11 games this season, Grubauer has registered a .925 save percentage with a 2.12 GAA and has become a backup the team knows it can rely on. That will mean more opportunities for the Rosenheim, Germany native down the stretch.

"Depending on our schedule, there's a good chance he could get probably 25 percent of the games," head coach Barry Trotz said. That would translate into eight or nine games for Grubauer in the next 10 weeks and somewhere around 20 for the season. That number will start on Tuesday as Grubauer will get the start over Holtby against the Florida Panthers.

Though Holtby did not seem to suffer any ill effects in the playoffs in 2015, a few more nights off for Holtby couldn't hurt.

"Holts can't play every game," Grubauer said. "He wants to, but he can't so you've got to make sure I help out here."

MORE CAPITALS: Caps prepare to face Panthers without Ovechkin

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‘It would have been weird if we wouldn't have won first’: Oshie opens up about former team hoisting the Cup

‘It would have been weird if we wouldn't have won first’: Oshie opens up about former team hoisting the Cup

ARLINGTON, Va. -- T.J. Oshie spent the first seven years of his NHL career trying to bring a Cup to St. Louis. Four years after he was traded to the Capitals, the Blues finally earned the franchise’s first championship.

Now after seeing his old team win, Oshie is happy for the city and his former teammates...but it helps that the Caps won it in 2018.

“I think it would have been weird if we wouldn't have won first,” Oshie said. “But no, I was very happy for those guys. I was happy to see the city of St. Louis.”

Oshie said he FaceTimed some of his former teammates the next morning while on his way to a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. He discovered the celebration had not yet stopped.

“They hadn't gone to bed yet after the night they won so they were still there with the Cup,” he said.

The fact that Oshie has a championship of his own to celebrate certainly allows for him to be happy for his former team, but it also brings with it more drive.

“There's a different type of motivation,” he said. “Before it was like, 'This is ours. Let's keep it.' We didn't play St. Louis, they didn't take it from us, but that's kind of the feeling that you get.”

There were many points last season that could have been seen as moments to “turn the page” from Washington's Cup run: The start of the season, the banner raising, the White House visit, the start of the playoffs, Washington’s elimination at the hands of the Hurricanes, etc. But none of those moments brought with them the finality and reality of seeing Alex Pietrangelo lift the Cup.

The Caps are no longer the defending champs, they are no longer the team everyone is chasing and, despite his friendships with former teammates and his love for St. Louis, Oshie wants to see the Caps reclaim Lord Stanley.

“Our year will be, hopefully, a little bit more focused on getting that drive back to reclaim it,” Oshie said, “And hopefully bring another Cup to D.C.”

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Capitals Goal of the Year Bracket: Oshie's Kung Fu kick vs Ovechkin's snipe

Capitals Goal of the Year Bracket: Oshie's Kung Fu kick vs Ovechkin's snipe

With less than a month before training camp opens in mid-September, we are taking one last look back at the 2018-19 season as we dive into the best goals of last year. We compiled our bracket based on the cumulative rankings of our Capitals team, from reporters to producers and everyone in between, and now is your turn to help us determine the best Capitals goal of 2018-19. Below is a Slack conversation between the members of our Capitals content team.

jmurph: Day 3 of our Goal of the Year bracket pitting T.J. Oshie’s kung-fu kick goal from Game 2 of the First Round last year against Carolina and an Alex Ovechkin slot snipe against the Avalanche. Where shall we start?

JJ Regan: First, I want to here from McNally who had this Ovechkin goal ranked 5th. To me, I would put both Ovechkin's one-timer (No. 16) and Vrana's goal (No. 15) over this one.

So please, defend yourself

Rob Carlin: Here?? Really JJ?? Let’s work on your grammar before taking shots at McNally.

Don’t you write for a living??

JJ Regan: I am not a morning person.

Mourning person

Missed opportunity

jmurph: well Brian, what do you have to say for yourself?

bmcnally: I also am not a morning person and probably watched the video at 8am. There's my excuse.

Rob Carlin: I’m stunned this Ovi goal even made the list. It’s pedestrian for him.

bmcnally: It's still pretty, pretty good. It's not 5th. It's a nice move to cut to the middle and I think we're underrating the shot

JJ Regan: Let's be clear, it's a good goal. A fine goal. Impressive in fact. But it had no business coming up against TJ Oshie's kung fu kick.

bmcnally: But I'll concede this could probably go on the "Worst goals allowed by the Colorado Avalanche in 2018-19" list and not this list

Ryan Billie: It’s a fine goal. Seen it tho a million times.

Rob Carlin: I love the Oshie goal. But the whole thing is Matt Niskanen’s pass through the neutral zone. It’s a thing of beauty. Sure, Osh finished in style. But that outlet was perfection.

bmcnally: And to be fair....I don't think I ranked it ahead of T.J. Oshie's goal. If I did I had a brain injury that day. The kung fu kick is an all timer for me. I love its so much

jmurph: this is true, you ranked the Oshie goal #1 on your list

so you're not a complete loony

Ryan Billie: All timer. One of the best Oshie goals as a Cap

JJ Regan: What makes it even better was that it was against Justin Williams who seemed to take that entire series personally. Pro athletes always find ways to motivate themselves so maybe that was just his way of pumping himself up for the series, but I loved Oshie kicking the stick right out of his hands.

jmurph: Agreed, even thinking about sticking your leg up is something most wouldn't come close to attempting in a playoff game. To try it, and successfully knock the stick out of Justin's hands is something else

bmcnally: The reaction to the kung fu kick is great, too. Like he wants to argue with the ref or have some penalty called but instead just goes "Aw, hell that was ridiculous."

JJ Regan: Not every underdog matches up. This one is a blowout.

Ryan Billie: I didn’t know that was allowed, kicking it out of his hands. Very resourceful.

bmcnally: Yes. This one isn't close. This goal will face stiffer competition later in the tournament. But not today

Ryan Billie: Not even close. The Oshie goal may win the whole damn thing

Rob Carlin: Yeah, this is just an overmatched MAAC team going up against Duke or Kentucky. To quote Dickie V - Its blowout city, baby!

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