With Michal Neuvirth battling the flu for the second time in a week, the Caps have recalled goaltender Philipp Grubauer to back up Braden Holtby for tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers at Verizon Center [7 p.m., CSN].
"Obviously, it's tough," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "But there’s some things you can’t control. I feel bad for him."
Last week, Neuvirth fell ill before the Capitals’ game in Philadelphia against the Flyers and Grubauer ended up seeing his first NHL action in that 4-1 loss, relieving Holtby and keeping the Flyers off the board in the final 25:05 of that game.
Neuvirth, who has not played in exactly one month, was scheduled to start that game in Philadelphia and is expected to start Saturday’s game against the Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y., the first of a back-to-back set that concludes at home on Sunday with the Rangers.
If Neuvirth is not healthy enough to start on Long Island, Oates said he would consider giving Grubauer his first NHL start. The preference, however, would be to get Neuvirth some game action.
"There was a plan to split them," Oates said. "I’d still like to split them – whether it’s Grubauer or Neuvy. I’m not so worried about it. But it’s a lot of hockey [for Holtby]. Back-to-backs especially. And you've got to get your other guy a game here and there."
Either way, Holtby will get his 11th straight start tonight against the Panthers. He is 3-0-0 with a 2.73 GAA in three career starts against Florida.
In 14 games with the Hershey Bears, Grubauer, 21, is 8-4-1 with a 1.99 GAA, a .930 save percentage and one shutout.
He spent the first half of the season with Reading of the East Coast Hockey League and was named a starter in the ECHL All-Star game after compiling a record of 19-5-1 with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 26 games played with the Royals.