No one expected the Washington Capitals to be sitting dead last in the Southeast Division with a 2-7-1 record in the early weeks of the 2013 season. With star players Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Ribeiro all struggling to settle into a rhythm early on and subpar goaltending, new head coach Adam Oates has a lot of work to do fast with this team. Last year’s late-season star Braden Holtby has been unable to match his magic this season, and has won just one game this season.
Holtby is allowing an average of four goals a game, while Michal Neuvirth isn’t faring much better. Neuvirth is averaging three goals allowed per game, as the two go back-and-forth as starters. After an impressive performance for the Capitals during the 2010-11 season that saw the young netminder go 10-2-2, Holtby found himself behind Tomas Vokoun and Neuvirth on the depth chart for 2011-12, and didn’t get a chance until late in the season. He made the most of his opportunity, and carried Washington past the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs and to a seventh game against the New York Rangers.
This was supposed to be Holtby’s year to take over the starter’s job, with Vokoun out of the picture and Neuvirth still a better second option. The lockout forced him to start the season in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, where he struggled to a 12-12-1 mark with a 2.14 goals against average. At the NHL level this season, Holtby has been one of the weakest links on a struggling Capitals team that most likely continues to regret letting Semyon Varlamov leave.