Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has been a pleasant surprise over the past two seasons. After being called up late in the year in 2012, the young netminder started every playoff game. His spectacular spring earned him the starting gig in Washington this season.
The big question remains, is he a one-hit wonder, or can he finally provide the consistent, solid backstop that has been missing in DC for years?
Holtby was first called up during the 2010-11 season and played in 14 games, posting an impressive 10-2 record with a brilliant 1.79 goals against average. Most of that season however, Holtby was playing for the Capitals' farm team, the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League. He finished that season with a 30-17 record for the Bears.
Until late in the season last year, Holtby was once again minding the net in Hershey. He continued to show the skills of a solid goalie, winning 20 games and posting a 2.61 GAA.
Capitals fans officially got to know Holtby as the team was heading towards the playoffs. He won the last two regular-season games and solidified his spot as the starter for the playoffs. Though the Caps were bounced in the second round, little can be blamed on the goaltending, as Washington seemed to forget how to put the puck in the net last season.
In the two playoff matchups against Boston and New York, he posted seven wins with an amazing 1.95 GAA and a .935 save percentage. That's not too shabby for a first-time starter in the postseason.
Fast forward to the current season, and Holtby is the clear starter in net for the Capitals.
Due to the NHL lockout, he was forced to return to the familiar surroundings of Hershey, PA to start the year. It was just recently announced that he was named the AHL Player of the Month for December.
That means he's getting hot as the season that really matters gets started. To date, Holtby's numbers have been solid and should give him confidence heading into the upcoming season.
There's no doubt the Capitals have talent throughout their lineup. The team possess an offense that should be able to put up goals in bunches as well as a solid, experienced defense. All of those things bode well for a young goalie who is sure to hit some bumps in the road.
Holtby is still in the early part of his career, but it's already been one filled with success.
The Washington Capitals have to feel good about the man who will be protecting the net in 2013.