Caps Kick 2013 Goalie Shuffle into Gear With Grubauer Recall

Posted February 27, 2013

Philipp Grubauer shows off his new 2013 Caps-themed mask while making a stop in the Hershey net (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

With Philipp Grubauer‘s call-up to Washington, it’s once again time to examine that annual ritual known as the Goalie Shuffle.  It’s practically a guarantee – every time March comes around, the Capitals goaltenders start dropping like flies.  2013 is, sadly, proving no exception.  The only difference is that the injuries have been minor, so far, and the Caps have a reserve goalie in  Sergey Kostenko, who is currently biding his time on loan to the Ontario Reign.


As with all versions of the goalie shuffle, it’s the bottom of the food chain that gets hit the hardest.  In this case, the Reading Royals brought in Frederic Cassivi, a retired alumnus of both the Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals, to fill the void on Sunday when Brandon Anderson was called up to Hershey.  Cassivi faced was 26 shots, and was backed up by Corey Milan, both of whom were signed to short-term trial contracts.  Both have since been released from their contracts.

Capitals Prospect Brandon Anderson mixes and matches his purple pads with the weekend's specialty jerseys.

Brandon Anderson mixes and matches his purple pads with Reading’s Veteran’s Day weekend specialty jerseys.

28 year old Riley Gill is the latest goaltender signing in Reading, stepping in to back up Anderson while mid-season signee Drew MacIntyre is on loan to the Toronto Marlies.  Of course, the situation gets awkward if Anderson receives another callup to Hershey – whether because one of the Bears goalies suffers an injury, or if Grubauer spends any time in Washington (Hershey doesn’t play again until Friday, which is why no one has been called up for insurance).

Update: With the return of Jussi Rynnas to the Marlies, it’s possible that MacIntyre will be released from his AHL tryout soon, but there’s no guarantee until it happens.  Second Update: Per Jason Guarente, Anderson is now bound for Hershey & Reading has signed Brian Markowicz as an Emergency Backup Goaltender.


Speaking of Grubauer, the first-year AHLer is currently in Philadelphia with the Capitals to stand in for the sick Michal Neuvirth.  He’s expected to gain his first NHL experience tonight, sitting on the bench behind Braden Holtby.

Dany Sabourin blocks an attempted wrap-around goal.

Dany Sabourin blocks an attempted wrap-around goal.

Dany Sabourin, meanwhile, is healing healed up after taking a puck to the face while sitting on the Hershey bench Saturday night.  There’s been no official news on his status, but the fact that Anderson is back down in Reading is a positive sign (Correction: Bears’ Scott Stuccio has confirmed that Sabourin has been practicing since Tuesday).

Optimism vs. Realism

In a compressed season, the odds are not in favour of healthy players, and goalies see more ice time than any of their teammates.  Given the unfortunate luck that the Caps have suffered over the last few years in net, it’s not entirely unreasonable to hope that Neuvirth’s bug and Sabourin’s 6-8 stitches are the worst setbacks that the Capitals goalie system will face.  It would certainly be nice.

Michal Neuvirth stretches before a game.

Michal Neuvirth stretches before a game.

But when one takes reality into account, it’s safer to presume that either Grubauer or Anderson will be getting some ice time a level above their regular roster spots before the season ends.

Braden Holtby, who is again destined to be anointed the temporary "Chosen One" of Washington.

Whether you agree with the sentiment or not, expect to see plenty more “In Holtby We Trust” signs in the near future. No pressure, Holts!

Megan Bears contributed to this report.