- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz announced Tuesday that Philipp Grubauer will start in net Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday.

Grubauer was chosen over Braden Holtby, the Capitals’ usual go-to starter over the past five years.

Grubauer has appeared in two playoff games for the Capitals and won his only start, in 2015 against the New York Islanders.

“It’s a privilege to start, for sure,” Grubauer said. “But it’s just like any other game. You treat it as Game 1 or Game 82. It’s not going to change any of my approach.”

Trotz said Grubauer deserved the opportunity due to his “body of work” and the decision did not have to do with any particular matchup.

“Trust me, it wasn’t an easy decision,” Trotz said. “[We] put a lot of factors in. Braden’s been the guy for a long time and his body of work, especially since I’ve been here — I talked to him yesterday and said, you know, that weighed heavily on me because he’s done so much for us.”

Trotz said the decision is only for Game 1, and he is not committed to alternating goalies yet.

Holtby said he will focus on his own game in the meantime.

“I’m not going to get into [Grubauer‘s] ear. That’s the last thing he needs,” Holtby said. “He’s a professional and he knows what he has to do to perform his best. My job is just to make sure, being help for all the other guys.”

Grubauer has won seven of his past nine starts and allowed just one goal to the Penguins in Pittsburgh for a division-clinching win Easter Sunday. But Holtby has rebounded from a 2-5-2 February and won six of his eight starts since then.

“It is a good problem. It’s not even a problem, it’s a blessing,” Trotz said. “From my standpoint, you don’t know how things change in this game so quickly. It’s a sickness, the guy rolls an ankle, someone falls on him. There’s so many thousands of ways things can change in an instant. And we’ve got a backup in that area which we feel very comfortable with.”

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