The Seattle Kraken continue to stir up the NHL playoffs, and with Philipp Grubauer a German is at the heart of this ice hockey fairy tale from the Northwest of the USA.
In the Kraken’s 5-4 victory in the conference semi-finals at the Dallas Stars, Yanni Gourde advanced to the match winner with his goal in extra time. But Grubauer once again proved to be the safe support of his team with 25 saved shots.
When Stars center Roope Hintz ran alone towards Grubauer in the eighth minute of extra time, the 31-year-old from Rosenheim defused the tricky situation with a strong use of the stick and received extra praise from his team. “When we needed him most, Grubi kept us in the game,” the Kraken wrote on Twitter.
However, game two of the conference semifinals on Friday night failed: the patients lost 4-2 to the stars and had to accept the 1-1 equalization in the series.
Already after the crucial seventh game in the NHL playoff series between the Seattle Kraken and the Colorado Avalanche, Henrik Lundqvist appeared on the US TV station TNT enthusiastically and explained what he likes about the German goalie and what makes him so strong.
The NHL legend, who spent 20 years with the New York Rangers between the posts, didn’t do it just like that, no. Lundqvist donned extra gloves and pads to visually convey his analysis to viewers.
Lundqvist praises Grubauer
“He’s a great mix of old and new,” said the Swede: “That’s why I like Grubauer.” But what makes the Seattle Kraken goalkeeper so special?
“He doesn’t stand knock-kneed like most goalkeepers, he puts his legs together – that allows him to slide to both sides more explosively.” This in turn results in gaps on each side, “because he has his hands very close to his body.”
The advantage: Grubauer can react faster and is neither in a bad position nor unbalanced after a missed shot or a defensive action. He can also fend off several shots in a row.
Backing up Seattle Kraken
Of course, it’s not that easy in practice, according to Lundqvist, this type of goalkeeper game requires above all “calmness, patience and the certainty that you can do it”.
And because the German national keeper can do that, he and his team have already celebrated a remarkable success. In the Kraken’s first playoff appearance, the Avalanche knocked out none other than the defending champion in game seven!
A do-or-die game where the pressure couldn’t have been higher – but Grubauer withstood it nonetheless. He saved 33 of 34 shots, which earned him a fabulous catch rate of 97.1 percent.
“We have all the trust in the world in him,” praised teammate Oliver Bjorkstrand afterwards. “I don’t know how this series would have gone if we hadn’t had him.”
Fans celebrate Grubauer with shouts of “GRUUUU”.
That the 31-year-old could go so far in and with Seattle was hardly conceivable not so long ago. In 2021 he switched to the Kraken, but the first season was more than sobering.
The newly founded franchise ended up in 30th place out of a possible 32. A result that many fans and experts suspected for the current season. In the best ice hockey league in the world, the team, but much more Grubauer himself, was just a side note. Mainly because the German lost his regular spot to his teammate Martin Jones during the season.
Little indicated that Grubauer would soon win a playoff series against the defending champions over seven games with the team – and that with a catch rate of 92.6 percent overall. But the goalie fought back and knew how to convince.
The German has meanwhile become a cult among Kraken fans, with calls of “GRUUUUU” echoing through the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, and the wider NHL audience should also be familiar with the DEB keeper. Especially since the Kraken are already the German’s third station in the league after the Washington Capitals and the Avalanche.
DEB will probably have to do without Grubauer at the World Cup
As a substitute goalkeeper, the 31-year-old was already able to look forward to winning the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018. In Seattle, Grubauer is currently lucky enough to have become an important factor for his team as a regular – and that in the decisive phase of the season.
“A lot of people wrote us off at the start of the season. We taught them a lesson,” Grubauer said happily after reaching the next playoff round, in which the Kraken also celebrated a successful start against the Dallas Stars.
But as much as the keeper and his teammates can be happy about the joint success, there are still sufferers: DEB and new national coach Harold Kreis have to be prepared for the fact that Grubauer’s participation in the Ice Hockey World Championship, which takes place from 12th to 15th March 2019. by May 28 in Finland and Latvia is becoming increasingly unlikely.
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