BOSTON | Braden Holtby’s flashy glove saves made the crowd at Verizon Center go wild, and then they were a subject of some mockery by Tim Thomas. That’s just a little bit of the showman coming out of the young Washington Capitals goaltender.
“You can call it a quiet confidence. It’s a good way to describe it,” right wing Mike Knuble said. “He’s not going to get pushed around in his crease; he’s going to fight back in his crease.”
Holtby’s confidence is oozing going into Game 7 against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, even though his playoff experience is limited.
“You think about Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals more than anything, but you don’t really think about that much,” he said Tuesday. “You have win certain games in order to get to the Stanley Cup, and this is going to be one of them.”
Perhaps easier said than done against Thomas, who raises his game under these circumstances. He has shutouts in his past two Game 7s.
“I think he’s the guy that I’m sure 29 other teams would want in net in this situation,” Bruins center Chris Kelly said.
The Caps will gladly take their confident 22-year-old kid between the pipes.
“He’s been good. He’s been real good. He battles every night,” coach Dale Hunter said. “He gives you a chance to win every night, and that’s what you ask from your goaltender.”
Holtby’s only Game 7 experience came with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League in 2009.
“We lost it, but it was good that I had it then,” he said.
Each time it has looked like Holtby wouldn’t be ready for a pressure situation, he has thrive, like at Detroit in March and Games 1 and 2 in Boston.
It doesn’t get more pressure filled than this, but Holtby insists he’s treating this like “another game.”
“It’s really not a question whether I can or can’t do it. I think the situation’s here, and I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure I give us the best chance to win,” he said. “I believe I can do that, and if I stick to what makes me successful in my mental preparation and physical preparation and go from there.”