Germany brought many familiar skaters to the World Championships and a few new ones who will help rebuild the national team, including Grubauer.
As Germany’s time at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship draws to a close there are some positive things they can look to. The play of their young skaters like Leon Draisaitl is something to consider. So too is the brief but positive contributions from goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
Although head coach Pat Cortina has chosen to give the team’s final start to Danny aus den Birken, Grubauer has acquit himself well over the two games he started in Minsk.
Grubauer saw his first World Championship action in Germany’s second game of the tournament against Latvia. He made 19 saves and got a 3-2 win. In rating his performance, the Rosenheim native thought there were some things that went well and others needing improvement.
“I was pleased with the game,” Grubauer said. “There were a couple of rebounds in front and overall I had to settle down a bit. But the team played well in front of me so any credit goes to them.”
In his second start against Russia, Grubauer stopped 28 of 30 shots but lost a 3-0 decision. He faced Washington Capitals teammate Alexander Ovechkin in the contest before the talented Russian forward suffered an injury after being checked by Marcus Kink.
The 22-year-old Grubauer has made the jump to the NHL after climbing the North American minor hockey system. Starting in 2011 with the South Carolina Stingrays in the East Coast Hockey League, he climbed to the Reading Royals of the same league a year later, then the Hershey Bears in the AHL and, finally, the NHL with the Capitals this season.
“It’s been an amazing year, even coming from the East Coast Hockey League two years ago to make the NHL,” He said of his rise through the ranks. “I learned at every level and that helped me.”
Grubauer has played well during his brief tenure in the NHL this season. Despite winning only 6 of the 17 games he played, the goals against was a 2.38 goals against and 92.5 saves percentage.
His big takeaway from moving out of minor pro hockey into the NHL is the skill sets of the players at that level. Things move faster and on the smaller ice surface, he has to react much faster.
“Some situations guys are more skilled,” he noted. “In the NHL there is a reason why the guy in front of me makes $6 million. In some situations it is tough to play as guys can pick their spots when they shoot. As a goalie you always have to be in great position. It is tough to see pucks up there, too. It’s a lot easier in the AHL.”
While still new to the World Championship experience, Grubauer credits being on the team and the veterans on it with contributing to his understanding how to prepare for a short tournament such as this.
“I’ve been able to understand better is how plays unfold and being better able to read them,” Grubauer offered up. “It’s a bit different here because the ice is wider and you have a little bit more time to read the play better. That helps a bit.”