Washington Capitals young goalie Braden Holtby emerged on the big stage last spring, almost propelling the Capitals to a spot in the Eastern Conference finals. Holtby earned Washington’s starting role in the postseason following injuries to Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun.
He posted an outstanding 1.95 goals against average along with a .935 save percentage in 14 postseason games, which ended in the deciding game against the New York Rangers. Holtby also played in seven regular season for the Capitals last season, recording a 2.49 goals against average along with a .922 save percentage.
Over the offseason, the Capitals traded Tomas Vokoun to the Pittsburgh Penguins, signaling their new direction between the pipes going forward. The tandem to take over in the nation’s capital will consist of Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, likely for the next few seasons.
With Adam Oates helping coach the Hershey Bears in the early part of the AHL season, he has seen first hand Holtby’s ability in net along with his potential in Washington’s goal crease. Holtby is a very flexible net-minder with solid rebound control and he rarely gives up on any play. Along with his skills in net, he likes to play the puck, often pushing his teammates into an offensive rush on a power play after the puck is dumped into the defensive zone.
During the lockout Holtby has played for the Hershey Bears, earning the majority of the starts in goal. In 19 games in Hershey this season, the 23 year old goalie has earned 10 wins to go with his 2.40 goals against average.
His competition in net for Washington, Michal Neuvirth, has been playing for HC Sparta Praha, a Czech League. In 19 games, Neuvirth has recorded a 2.64 goals against average.
Both are highly capable goalies for the Capitals moving forward, but Holtby is the better option. He’s played the best in postseason play and is highly durable. They could both earn time in net for Washington, but Adam Oates will have to make a decision on who the goal of the future in goal is for Washington.