The Three-Headed Monster in Goal

Posted January 16, 2014

I may be a third string goalie, but I play more than the first and second string. (Caps Outsider)

Of the “third string” goalies that are still hanging around the NHL, Philipp Grubauer is the only that isn’t forced to be here. Antti Raanta (Chicago), and Frederik Andersen (Anaheim) are still up because their club’s respective goalies (Corey Crawford and Viktor Fasth) are injured. Cam Talbot (New York Rangers) assumed the backup role when Marty Biron retired, though he has seen his fair of starts.

Los Angeles’ Martin Jones was once third in line to the King’s throne, but has officially been promoted to backup as of January 15, when Ben Scrivens was traded to Edmonton. It’s unclear exactly how many starts Jones will get behind Jonathan Quick, but he did steal 11 away from Scrivens, and went undefeated in his first 8 starts. However, as soon as Quick came back from injury, Jones was sent back to Manchester.

Nashville had three goalies on the roster in their game against Philadelphia after they traded for Devan Dubnyk on Wednesday. But General Manager David Poile specifically said they would assign either Marek Mazanec or Carter Hutton to the AHL on Friday.

It remains a mystery, then, why the Caps’ coaching staff continues to employ three goaltenders at a time, using just one of them for the majority of the starts. Since allowing three goals in just over 11 minutes of work against Tampa on Dec. 10, Braden Holtby has seen the crease just three times. Michal Neuvirth has seen action just twice since coming back from injury on Dec. 18. Rust was obvious in the game against Pittsburgh, as rebounds were flying everywhere.

The decision to send Grubauer down to Hershey when Neuvrith came back seemed obvious one. If the organization feels that Grubauer is a capable NHL start or backup, why rush into anything? If they are showcasing him for a trade, a far less likely option, all they have done is pissed off both of their other net minders.

Perhaps Adam Oates feels his team has a better chance to win with Grubauer. Even so, both Holtby and Neuvirth should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to getting out of any slumps they are going through. They’ve been here long enough they should be trusted to do so. Having both of them swapping bench door and nacho duties while a rookie takes all of their starts is helping no one.

After all, Jones wasn’t back in the minors for very long until he got the call to stay in the big leagues for good.