Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Washington Capitals rolled into the post season but it wasn’t because of their goaltenders. Both teams have questions with who will be in net during the postseason. Sergei Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets and either Philipp Grubauer (slated to play Game 1) or Braden Holtby for the Capitals have question marks entering the postseason.
Philipp Grubauer was granted the Game 1 start from coach Barry Trotz but Grubauer only has 79 minutes of postseason experience under his belt. Grubauer was thrown in net after Holtby was given time to regroup after experiencing a slump in both February and March. Grubauer finished with a .923 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA. Though both Holtby and Grubauer experience playing time down the stretch the Capitals went with Grubauer during 10 of the final 17 games of the season.
During Grubauer’s time in net against the Blue Jackets he has posted a 0-1-1 record during the three game experience with a 2.48 GAA and a .915 save percentage. Though Holtby is 14-4-2 against the Blue Jackets with a 2.62 GAA and a .914 save percentage.
Washington took three of the four games against the Blue Jackets this season however the Blue Jackets won the last meeting 5-1 with Holtby in goal for all four games.
Though the Capitals didn’t take their 3rd straight Presidents’ Trophy, they were able to dominate in the league after losing a chunk of their offense.
Washington was able to close the season and win the Metropolitan Division closing the season on an 8-2-0 run.
Alex Ovechkin lead the league with 49 goals after having only 33 goals last season. Evgeny Kuznetsov totaled 11 goals and 17 assists through the final 18 games and leading all blue-liners defenseman John Carlson led with 68 points.
Key to a Capitals victory:
The Capitals have been a dominate force on power play as they have a success rate of 22.5%. Not only that but the Capitals have the 15th ranked penalty kill with a 80.3%. If the Capitals can continue to dominate on both sides of the puck and figure out the goalie situation than they can succeed moving forward.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Although Bobrovsky has been one of the top goaltenders in the league this season his success often doesn’t carry into the postseason.
Bobrovsky went 37-22-6 during the regular season with a goals against average of 2.42 and a save percentage of .921 and during the postseason Bobrovsky has a 3-10 record with a 3.63 GAA and a .887 save percentage.
Though this may be the first time both teams will face eachother in the playoffs, during Bobrovsky’s career against Washington he has a 7-10-4 record with a 3.02 GAA and a .900 save percentage.
The Blue Jackets led the NHL in scoring over the last 28 games of the season with 101 goals and finished 10-2-2 record.
Panarin led the Blue Jackets with 27 goals and 82 points and Atkinson finished with 24 goals along with 11 goals in the final 11 games.
The Blue Jackets also had a top defensive pair with Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Each of them scored 16 goals which tied the franchise record for most goals by a defenseman in a single season.
Key to a Blue Jackets Victory:
The Blue Jackets have been inconsistent all season in regards to power play (17.2%) and the penalty kill (76.2). If the Blue Jackets can play aggressive throughout the series and fix the problems on special teams than they can succeed against the Capitals.
Capitals win Game 1 and defeated the Blue Jackets 3-1