NHL Playoffs: Braden Holtby Leads the Washington Capitals Home
In the week before the underdog Caps took to the ice in Boston, it became readily apparent that Holtby would be the one to man the crease. Starting goalie Tomas Vokoun was sidelined by a recurring groin injury, and backup Michael Neuvirth was dealing with a leg injury.
When it was obvious that neither would make a full recovery, Holtby was called up from Hershey to do one thing and one thing only—shoulder the responsibility of playing goalie against former Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas and the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins.
To say that Holtby has held his own through two games would be a massive understatement. The Caps have battled to a 1-1 series tie, and it would be foolish to think that they would be anywhere within striking distance of the superior Bruins without the heroics of their surprising young goaltender.
In two games, Holtby has risen from the depths of Hershey and stepped into the Boston Bruins’ nightmares. He has been the best goalie in the postseason thus far, allowing just two goals on 74 shots, a sparkling 0.83 goals against average and a Stanley Cup playoffs-leading 0.973 save percentage.
It seems as though Holtby has done in the playoffs what previous Caps’ netminders could not—get into the heads of the opposition.
The Caps always seem to be the team facing a goalie at his best. Be it Martin Biron for Philadelphia in 2008, Henrik Lundqvist for New York in 2009, or the unbelievable performance of Jaroslav Halak for Montreal in 2010, Washington hasn’t been able to catch a break in the postseason for several years.
Boston’s Tim Thomas has been arguably the second-best goalie thus far in the playoffs, but it feels somewhat different this time. Thomas has been excellent, but he hasn’t gotten into the collective consciousness of Washington.
Maybe that’s because the Caps know they don’t need three or four goals to win. They know that their rookie netminder, a 22-year-old kid with no playoff experience, is in the crease, patrolling the defensive half of the ice and blocking every challenge that comes his way.
They know that Braden Holtby is there to keep their playoff hopes alive.
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