For most of this season, it has looked as if the Washington Capitals have been struggling to find the right net minder. Goalies Braden Holtby, Michael Neuvirth and Phillip Grubauer have all had their chance to shine but it’s clear that the position remains up for grabs. But this begs the question, who should be our guy?
Pros: Although looking sharp the past two seasons, he has been very inconsistent this season. Out of all three goalies, I think that Holtby is the one most capable of spectacular play. The way he reacts to the puck is so quick and fluid that it only looks natural that he be the Caps’ number one goalie. He’s got a hot glove, fast moving stick, and flashes the pad with incredible speed. He’s agile and able to cover from post to post better than any goalie the Caps have had for awhile. Another benefit to having Holtby in net is his ability to get to the puck and make a good pass. It is a bit risky, but more often than it helps lead to some great breakouts and helps them retain possession.
Cons: Some of his high risk high reward plays end up backfiring… and in a huge way. One play I’ll never forget is last year when the Capitals played the New York Rangers in the playoffs and Holtby came out to play the puck, had the patience to pass off one Ranger but eventually turned it over and was scored on because he was so far out of the net. This really wasn’t an issue up until recently because more often than not these plays were successful. However, this season Holtby has been very inconsistent. He’ll make a few amazing saves and let in a very easy goal. Something about him seems a bit off. Until he finds that consistency again, it’s a huge risk to put him in net. Also it may just be me, but the Caps defense seems to play worse with Holtby in net, as if they feel they have a safety cushion and can lean on him more so than Neuvy or Grubauer.
Pros:Feed the hot hand. Grubauer has been extremely hot as of late posting a 5-2-2 record as a starter with a .938 save percentage and 2.02 goals against average. I love the way he has stepped up for this Caps team and made some key stops and fantastic saves over the start of the season. Not only is he athletic enough to cover the entire net, but he’s been very consistent in stopping all the necessary pucks that should not go in. He’s been very reliable for head coach Adam Oates who even admitted that he feels comfortable with Grubauer in net.
Cons: At the moment, nothing. Perhaps as the season goes on we’ll see a different player emerge. For now, this kid hasn’t done much for me to complain about. Just to give him something, he doesn’t have a lot of NHL experience under his belt at the moment, so maybe that’ll start to show. For now, great job.
Pros: With Michael Neuvirth it’s very apparent what the Capitals are going to get that night. Probably the most consistent of the three goaltenders, Neuvy is very good at making the stops he should and being very technically sound. He’ll let in a couple, make some key stops, and call it a night.
Cons: There’s nothing spectacular about him. I realize that consistency is a key factor when selecting a goalie, but not when it’s very sub par play day in and day out. Especially since the Capitals have been struggling with defense as of late, they need a goalie who can take over a game. Neuvirth is not that guy.
Of course the Caps have time to figure this out but none the less, who’s going to take control? In the mean time, I’m going to continue and enjoy the great play from all three.