So, Braden Holtby, are you preparing any differently for your second Stanley Cup playoff series with one victory under your belt?
“No. It’s still a hockey game. It doesn’t change much,” the Washington Capitals goaltender said. “Once you start putting more pressure on yourself for being in the playoffs, that’s when things go wrong. Just go with the flow right now. It’s just another hockey game. Go on to play the game we’ve played forever and do whatever we can to win.”
But, are you more relaxed?
“No. No. There’s no taking it for granted, there’s no putting more pressure on,” Holtby said. “It’s still a hockey game.”
But, but, are you more comfortable being the rookie goalie in your first playoffs?
“No. I don’t feel more comfortable or anything. Not that I felt uncomfortable before. It’s still the same,” Holtby said. “We’re still a confident group in here. I still feel confident in my abilities that I can give this team a chance to win. It doesn’t change much. It’s still the Capitals vs. Rangers.”
Holtby has reason to be confident. He put up some nice numbers in beating the Boston Bruins: a 2.49 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
Now he gets to go back to Madison Square Garden, starting with Game 1 Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers, the site of perhaps his finest performance of this regular season. Holtby said he was more comfortable than he expected to be in his Garden debut.
“Especially with getting used to the lighting and whatnot and the different confines. It’s not exactly your typical building. It was good to play in it,” said Holtby, who added it’s darker than other arenas. “It’s just a different color in there; it’s almost a yellow. That’s mainly the thing. It’s still a sheet of ice the same size as everyone else.”
That’s Holtby, cool and calm and unfazed by change or pressure. The Caps have gotten very used to this goaltender. He doesn’t have any ex-teammates or familiarity with the Rangers, so he’s sure to see plenty of fresh faces.
“Yeah,” Holtby said. “Most of the league is fresh faces for me.”