Instead of dwelling on how awfully that game went, and how much of a letdown it was compared to the last two, let’s think about something wonderful: Philipp Grubauer’s NHL debut!
It could have happened under better circumstances. Neuvirth fell ill, forcing Holtby to start two days in a row, for his eighth consecutive start, which naturally led to a less-than-stellar performance. On the other hand, the situation was so bleak that Grubauer must have felt relatively little pressure. He ended up making 14 saves on 14 shots in just over 25 minutes, which included one Flyers PP. That’s the same number of saves Holtby made! But on fewer shots.
I have been excited about Philipp Grubauer for years. He’s from Rosenheim, which is to Munich what Arlington is to DC, more or less, and came over to the OHL in 2008. In 2010, he was traded from the Windsor Spitfires (who had just acquired WJC darling Jack Campbell) to the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL. Here are some interesting titbits from an interview he did at the time with a German magazine (my translation):
On the draft: “I was at home and I followed the draft on my computer. Everything was making me really nervous because I was expected to be taken in the first couple of rounds. First in round 4 came as a huge relief.”
On being drafted by the Caps: “Could not have been better. Washington doesn’t have a lot of goaltenders in their system. This made up the soonest chance already I would have to take the next step and make it in the AHL.”
On the path to the NHL: “I would like to make the leap to the AHL and have two good years. Then I might get the chance to play a couple of games in the NHL and should everything go well, I could make it there in three years.” (Looks like you’re right on schedule!)
His role model: “In the NHL it’s Martin Brodeur, but my real role model is and always will be Robert Müller. And nothing will ever change that.”
(N.B. Robert Müller was a goalie who won two championships in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga and was drafted by the Caps but never played for them. He died of brain cancer in 2009 at the age of 28 and his number 80 was retired by the entire DEL. He also comes from Rosenheim.)
Holtby certainly deserves a rest, so perhaps we’ll see Grubauer thrown into a full game sometime soon. At this point, it can’t hurt.