- Kentucky city called socialist for buying gas station, undercutting competitor fuel prices
- Israel hits five mosques, sports complex in overnight Gaza strikes
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters’ questions on book tour
- EPA tweet baffles: ‘I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ iPhone game
- Australian P.M. Abbott: MH17 evidence tampered with on ‘industrial scale’
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez tells Hispanics to vote and ‘punish those’ who oppose amnesty
- Country singer Tim McGraw not sorry for slapping female fan: ‘Things happen’
- Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks
- White House takes credit for drop in unaccompanied children at border
- International crises be damned, Obama’s fundraising trip must go on
Braden Holtby ‘always wants the ball’ for Capitals
Goalie with 10 starts in a row should shoulder load down stretch
Question of the Day
Braden Holtby doesn’t have the heaviest workload among goaltenders around the NHL. He’s not even in the top 10 in starts.
But Holtby is undoubtedly the man for the Washington Capitals, having started 10 straight games. He’s 7-2-1 with 2.25 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in that time.
Given his consistency since the first two weeks of the season and Michal Neuvirth’s struggles, Holtby could get the nod every game from here on out. The 23-year-old has shown the ability to play whenever he has been asked.
“There was a couple starts obviously that he had to jump in. We’re obviously concerned about wearing him out,” coach Adam Oates said. “He always wants the ball. I haven’t seen him not want the ball yet, which is a great characteristic.”
Saturday’s game at the Florida Panthers and Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning are the final back-to-backs of the season. That should give Holtby plenty of rest.
Oates said recently that, although Holtby won’t admit it, the young goalie could have used a mental break last week. Instead, Holtby started at the Philadelphia Flyers when Neuvirth wasn’t feeling right, keeping the streak alive.
Despite that overtime loss, Holtby didn’t slip. Thursday night’s shootout victory over the New York Islanders was his third in the past six games and including his stopping 35 of 36 shots in regulation and overtime.
“Holts was a stud. He was a stud throughout the game,” forward Brooks Laich said. “They had some great looks where, we saw it from the bench, we thought it was going in and he was able to get a pad across and then came up big in the shootout. Halfway through the game you could tell he was going to be the first star.”
Holtby hasn’t needed to be first-star brilliant this entire stretch. He credits teammates for help along the way.
“We go as a unit. Your goaltender’s only as good as your team, and your team’s only as good as your goaltender,” Holtby said. “It’s never a case of one guy stealing the show. I think if we’re going, we go as a group, and that’s when we win games.”
But if not for Holtby’s strong season (16-11-1), the Caps wouldn’t be in first place in the Southeast Division with 11 games left.
And Holtby has earned the respect of teammates beyond what he has done in games.
“He works real hard in practice and stays out afterward, taking guys’ shots and trying to better himself through all the games,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “He battles, he never gives up on plays and that just shows his perseverance and the willingness he has to win. And that rubs off on our team because if we see him make a couple of those huge pad saves in the second, one very, very late in the third, those really lift your team. And the guys want to play for him when he’s playing like that.”
Caps players have had plenty of opportunities to play for Holtby, and they’ll likely get almost a dozen more. Oates said before the season he liked the idea of riding a hot hand in goal, and that’s Holtby.
The Caps’ coach came from the New Jersey Devils, where it was a no-brainer that Martin Brodeur was starting a vast majority of the time. That Holtby has followed a similar path this season shouldn’t be surprising.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- Humanists seek support from Congress on military chaplains
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- Big milestone for Britain's little prince
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq