September 16, 2019

Washington Capitals 2013-14 Season Preview: The Goalies

Braden Holtby -Practice April 27(Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Braden Holtby -Practice April 27, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Braden Holtby – Holtby enters the season as the unquestioned No. 1 between the pipes for Adam Oates and newly appointed goalies coach Olie Kolzig. Holtby was strong last season and into the playoffs, starting every single game in the second season. His athletic, almost hyper-aggressive style works for him, as he can dominate for long stretches of time.

On occasion, however that aggressiveness can be a hindrance. He’s terrific passing the puck, but he has a tendency to overplay the puck, which gets him in trouble now and again, as we saw in the Rangers series. He occasionally has a problem with positioning that sometimes he can make up with his athleticism, and sometime he can’t. He’s got a strong glove, but his unorthodox style of reaching for pucks with his glove instead of letting them come to him can also cause trouble.

This is a big year for Holtby. It’s rumored that he’s on the short list of goalies being considered for the Canadian Olympic team, and there would be no higher honor for Holtby, short of hoisting the Stanley Cup, than making that team and leading his countrymen to Sochi. Lots of eyes will be on his every start, and not just those of Caps fans this season.

Michal Neuvirth during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Michal Neuvirth during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Michael Neuvirth – Neuvy has settled into his caddy role for Holtby, though he’s still young enough that he’d be considered many franchise’s future in the position. Neuvirth is technically sound, responsible and mild-mannered – everything that Holtby is not.

Unfortunately for him, every time Neuvirth has a chance to put his stamp on the position, something out of his control seems to get in the way. Usually, that’s been a nagging injury or a random spate of poor play. He has the talent to play in this league a long time, but perhaps he’s just not leading-man caliber.

Neuvirth continues to be the good soldier, there for the Caps when they need a back up to a veteran netminder (Theodore, Vokoun) or to be the goalie in waiting while the “next big thing” (Varlamov, Holtby) jumps past him on the depth chart.

Philipp Grubauer at Caps 2011 Training Camp (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Philipp Grubauer at Caps 2011 Training Camp (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Philipp Grubauer – The German native is the Caps current “next big thing” in goal. The Caps fourth round pick in the 2010 entry draft, Grubauer has extensive international experience, playing with the German national team in several tournaments, including the 2008 U18 Worlds, and the 2009 World Juniors. Grubauer was also a member of the 2010 Windsor Spitfires Memorial Cup Champion team.

Technically superior, Grubauer was named to the ECHL All-Rookie team with South Carolina in 2011-12. He split time in 2012-13 between Hershey and Reading, joining Hershey full-time after the NHL lockout ended.

Grubauer made his NHL debut in relief of Holtby on Feb. 27, stopping all 14 shots he faced in just over 25 minutes of play. He made his first start March 9, a 5-2 loss to the Islanders, stopping 40 of 45 shots.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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