Just a year ago, in March of 2011, a 22-year-old no name goalie got called up to the Washington Capitals after one of their goalies suffered an injury. Being unproven and fresh meat to the NHL, he seemed at ease as he played his way into creating a goalie controversy on one of the league’s top teams. In March of 2012, Braden Holtby is doing it yet again.
In his three games since Tomas Vokoun went down with a groin injury, Holtby has been stellar and always improving after he turned a not so great .889 save percentage in the first two months of the AHL season into a shutout in one of the Capitals biggest games of the season. With the Capitals fighting for every point left in their schedule as they try to write their name into the postseason, coach Dale Hunter may be forced to play the hot hand that has kept them in the playoff race thus far.
Holtby acknowledged that he has been making the most of his call-ups, and has been working his a** off in the AHL this season with the Hershey Bears. I believe that Sunday, Holtby, who has Carpe Diem written on his helmet, seized the day.
Holtby’s play not only earned him First Star of the Game honors, but also congratulatory visits in the locker room after the game from Al Koken and Capitals’ goalie coach Dave Prior.
While Holtby has played brilliant in games against the Detroit Red Wings (5-3 Win), Philadelphia Flyers (2-1 SO Loss), and the Minnesota Wild (3-0 Win), his play does leave fans holding their breath at times. Holtby loves to play an aggressive style of hockey, coming out of his net to take on forwards, as well as play the puck behind the net with his slick puck-handling. However, his teammates don’t believe in these past three games that he has given up a soft goal yet.
Still, Holtby is as humble as ever praising the play of the defensemen and forwards in front of him. In the past two years of NHL experience, Holtby is now 12-4-3 at the NHL level, with three shutouts. But deep down, he is still the kid from the middle of nowhere, Canada, getting his shot in the heat of the NHL playoff race.