Grubauer to face Sharks; who will face Pens?

Grubauer to face Sharks; who will face Pens?
January 14, 2014, 11:45 am
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How Caps penalties create a snowball effect

Rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer will make his 12th start in 17 games tonight when the Capitals take on the San Jose Sharks at Verizon Center [7 pm., CSN].

As for Wednesday night’s game in Pittsburgh, Adam Oates said he’s likely to split his goalies. But will he go with Braden Holtby or Michal Neuvirth against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins? Could all three goalies see time in the next three games?

“Chances are they’re all going to play in the next little bit,” Oates said after today’s morning skate.

Oates said he’ll base part of his decision on how much work Grubauer gets tonight against the Sharks, who are averaging the most shots in the NHL with 35.5 per game. Antti Niemi [23-10-6, 2.39 GAA, .913 save percentage] is expected to be in goal for the Sharks.

“Obviously, they’re a very good team so I expect a lot of work for him, so chances are we’ll split,” Oates said. “You never know.”

RELATED: [Capitals await wounded Sharks]

Of the three goalies, Grubauer [6-2-4, 2.16 GAA, .934 save percentage] has put up the best numbers this season and appears to have nailed down a permanent roster spot.

“The more games I play the more comfortable I am,” said Grubauer, 22. “I feel there are always things to work on that I can improve on and I look forward to tonight.”

Neuvirth, 25, seems like a likely candidate to face the Penguins on Wednesday night, especially when you compare his career numbers against the Penguins [2-0-2, 1.72, .937] to Holtby’s [0-4-0, 4.38, .874].

That could mean Holtby, 24, is in line to start in Columbus against the Blue Jacket on Friday, with Grubauer returning to New York to face the Rangers on Sunday.

“It is [competition],” Oates said. “You kind of don’t want it be because you have faith in all the guys.

“Just like everybody, they have tough nights and unfortunately for that position it’s more magnified. You want them to get on a roll and you want to get their confidence and you want to factor that all in, but at the same time circumstances dictated this.”