Let's officially welcome the real Philipp Grubauer to Seattle. Because it really feels like the Kraken finally have a dependable No. 1 goaltender on its roster.
On Saturday night, Grubauer won his third game in his last four starts. The one game he lost was arguably his best, making 38 saves – the third most in franchise history – in a shootout loss last Tuesday night at Winnipeg. In his last nine starts, dating back to the start of January, he’s stopped 92.6 percent of the shots he’s faced.
Simply put: Grubauer is back - Back to the form the team expected of him when they signed him to be their top goaltender in their first year – before he had, by far, the worst season of his career.
This year started in a similar ominous form, and a lower body injury didn’t help his cause either. For months, we’ve been talking about the tandem of Grubauer and Martin Jones, who fortunately played admirably while Grubauer struggled, racking up 23 wins so far this year. Add a couple of shutouts during the Kraken’s remarkable 7-0 roadtrip in January, and it looked like Jones was the clear No. 1.
And listen, it’s reassuring to have two capable goalies you can turn to, especially throughout the regular season. I have no problem giving credit to both players between the pipes.
But the longer Grubauer remains consistently dependable, the more likely he’s solidifying his spot as their go-to guy come playoffs.
And most people will tell you: You need a reliable No. 1 goalie in the postseason. I went back to 2005 before I stopped looking for a league champion that had more than one goalie start games in the Stanley Cup Finals. You don’t win a Stanley Cup when you have to decide between two goalies to start in your most important games.
It’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if Grubauer starts most of the Kraken’s games going forward – especially if his numbers stay as consistent as they’ve been since the start of January.
Grubauer’s showing us everything we expected of him when we first heard his name.
He’s the shining example of the phrase: "It’s better late than never."