Braden Holtby gets the start in goal for the Washington Capitals on Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, his first game action in 10 days.
“It’ll be good, obviously,” the 22-year-old netminder said. “I’m looking forward to playing again. We need a big win and I think we all know that, so myself and I believe our group is just taking it like another game to try and keep our emotions down to do the right things.”
A lot of the wrong things happened to the Caps during their two-game Canadian road trip, as they blew two third-period leads and lost to the Ottawa Senators an Toronto Maple Leafs. Michal Neuvirth, who started the past five games, wasn’t the reason for the collapses, but there were a few goals he would’ve liked to have back.
It was coach Adam Oates’ plan all along to play Holtby against the Flyers.
“It was his turn,” Oates said. “We talked about it with the guys a few days ago that Neuvy has played a lot in a row and back-to-back. Fresh legs kind of.”
Holtby, who allowed 10 goals in his two starts, hasn’t played since Jan. 22 when he lost at home to the Winnipeg Jets. His numbers, a 5.04 goals-against average and .863 save percentage, are more indicative of the Caps’ struggles in those outings than his own.
But since the Jets game, Holtby has had to watch Neuvirth steal the show.
“You obviously aren’t playing, you’re not getting the game situations or whatnot,” Holtby said. “I’ve come to terms with that long ago that that’s the game of hockey. That’s just the way it goes sometimes and you just control the controllables and do your part to help when you’re asked upon.”
Getting called upon to face the Flyers, Holtby isn’t worried about the rust from a long layoff. He tried not to change his approach on how he practiced and prepared.
“It’s different not playing for a while, but I don’t think that’ll affect anything,” he said. “Right now we need a win and all that other stuff doesn’t matter; how many days between starts, how we played before. Right now we just, myself I have to focus on giving our team the best chance we can to win.”
Ilya Bryzgalov (2-4-0, 2.19 goals-against average, .924 save percentage) is expected to start for Philadelphia.