Caps players know they need to take accountability
After a month of carrying three healthy goalies, the Capitals decided on Monday to re-assign rookie netminder Philipp Grubauer to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
The move puts the Caps’ goaltending duties back into the hands of Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, who were the team’s tandem until Neuvirth injured his ankle on Black Friday and Grubauer stole the No. 1 job.
Grubauer’s seven-week run with the Capitals was an impressive one. In 16 appearances with the Caps the 22-year-old German compiled a 6-4-5 record with a 2.38 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
But back-to-back losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets [3 goals on 14 shots] and New York Rangers [3 goals on 8 shots] were enough for George McPhee and Adam Oates to decide to send Grubauer back to Hershey for the first time since Nov. 30.
“He came up and played really well and gave us a little life,” Oates said. “He won some games and it made for a difficult situation with three goalies. We just lost a few in a row and it makes sense to send him back down because we lost that spark in a sense.
Oates said he told Grubauer that he showed he can be an NHL goalie and asked him to continue to work on his game. He also told him that he got pulled in back-to-back games because of the way the Capitals were playing in front of him and not because he was playing poorly.
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“You’re a young guy,” Oates said he told Grubauer. “We expect you to be back, hopefully not too long.”
Grubauer said after Sunday nght’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers that he understood Oates’ decision to pull him.
“It’s part of the job,” he said. “A player gets benched. A goalie gets pulled. It’s my job to stop the puck and I didn’t stop it.”
Grubauer said he was most upset by the 5-on-3 goal that Rick Nash put between his pads from the bottom of the right circle.
“I know it was a 5-on-3,” he said, “but it was a bad goal, from the side, 5-hole.”
Capitals place Oleksy on waivers: The Capitals have placed defenseman Steve Oleksy on NHL waivers, with the intent of sending him to the Hershey Bears. Oleksy, 27, has played in 33 games for the Caps this season and has two goals, eight assists and his a team-best plus-7 with 53 penalty minutes. With the arrival of rookie Connor Carrick, Oleksy has been a healthy scratch for the past seven games. He has until noon on Tuesday to clear. Oleksy has this season and next remaining on a three-year deal that averages $541,667.