Holtby wasn’t asked Wednesday about trading for a defensive standout. It’s not fair to put him on the spot like that. But he did talk about the value of such a player, and of defense in general.
“It’s huge,” Holtby said of having a defensive rock on his side. “It means just as much as a goalscorer. When you’re trying to build a team, everyone looks at skill guys, but from a team aspect those guys who play a ton of minutes shutting down the other team’s top players mean just as much as the guys who score goals. They don’t get near as much credit but that’s just the way it works.”
Ex-Capital Rod Langway won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in back-to-back seasons when he scored a total of 12 goals. Those who played with and against Langway used to marvel that he never made mistakes. Sure, he got beat sometimes. But the key is to make the opponent beat you, not make it easy for them to beat you.
“I think obviously it is a cliché, but defense does win championships,” Holtby said. “The team that have won in the past, you look at their defensive system and their defensemen. They have 1-2 guys who are top 20 [offensive] players in the league probably, but it is never really them that gets you there. If you can be consistent in the defensive end, not giving up goals, you’re going to win more games than the team that puts all their effort into scoring.”
The Caps haven’t been consistent on either end, but shoring up the defense would really help.
“When you look at successful teams, you usually see teams that don’t give up more than 10 scoring chances a game,” Holtby said. “I don’t know that we’ve had one game like that. It’s just a consistency thing. We need to figure out how to focus on that aspect first and not worry about the goals being scored because that’s going to come. We have enough skill in this dressing room to score goals. It’s the other aspect that needs work right now.”
Help it along by giving until it hurts, by doing whatever it takes to bring in a defender. Gonzalez was an All-Star and 21-game winner his first year with the Nats. RG3 was rookie of the year and led the Skins to the playoffs.
Go get a Norris Trophy contender.