Washington Capitals Can’t Afford to Play Braden Holtby Any Longer

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On Saturday afternoon, the Washington Capitals picked up a heartbreaking 4-2 loss at the hands of the Boston Bruins, in turn seeing their road to the playoffs get much harder. And if the team can learn one lesson from this game to take to the final nine contests of the season, it should be that Braden Holtby shouldn’t start another game this year.

During the loss, Holtby displayed the chronic lapse in focus that has followed him all season long, allowing three goals between 2:48 and 8:16 in the second period, a time period in which the Bruins mustered only seven shots. This left the Capitals in a 3-0 hole that was impossible to overcome, and he displayed the lack of rebound control and confidence that has haunted Holtby all season long.

This season, Holtby has a 20-15-3 record with a 2.98 GAA and .911 save percentage, allowing four or more goals 14 times along the way. Sure, he can be great unstoppable at times, but over the last five months, Holtby has been too inconsistent to be relied upon in big games, and more often than not has cost the Capitals more than he has helped them.

The team’s skaters have seemed to take notice of his deficiencies, and they have seemed to lack a bit of jump on both ends of the ice when he starts.

What makes matters worse is that the Capitals have a perfectly capable goaltender on the bench in the form of Jaroslav Halak. Since joining Washington at the NHL Trade Deadline, Halak has compiled a 4-2-2 record with a 2.34 GAA and .929 save percentage, quite impressive totals. Along the way, the 28-year-old has generally stopped everything that has come his way, and has made a concerted effort to halt any second chances, which has kept the Capitals from seeing themselves drop out of winnable games.

The Capitals now have nine games remaining in the 2013-14 season, and they sit in a tight battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. This tight battle means that the Capitals cannot afford to put any player on the ice who lowers their chances of winning any game, and should result in Halak being the starting goalie for every remaining match.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or join his network on Google.

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  • liquid hero

    Of all the dumb articles bemoaning the Cap’s goaltending issues this
    season, this one may be the worst, and that’s saying something. This
    team gives up breakaways on a regular basis; in addition to being unable
    to clear the crease, the defense rarely exits the zone without a major
    struggle. All of this leads to an inordinate amount of shots on goal –
    Caps are right up there with Toronto and Buffalo in allowing shots on
    goal. All of which means, the tenders are gonna get beaten like the
    proverbial red-headed stepchild. Stop blaming Holtby and instead put the
    blame on the failings of the team’s defensive “system” and its
    individual components like John Erskine, Connor Carrick and every other
    AHL level guy the Caps have thrown out there this year. Blaming Holts or
    any of the tenders that have tried to stop pucks behind this
    poorly-coached version of Swiss cheese is like blaming your sunburn on the Summer sun because you forgot to slather on sunscreen before going outdoors.
    you want to direct your ire somewhere, point it in the direction of
    Adam Oates (who has no idea of how to manage personnel) and/or his sock
    puppet of an assistant coach Calle Johannson, neither of whom have shown
    any inclination to make changes to the defensive system or its roster of underperforming defensemen.

  • VeggieTart

    Let me make this clear: GOALTENDING IS NOT THE PROBLEM IN WASHINGTON!!! In case you didn’t watch yesterday’s game, Holtby is the only one who came to play, at least in the first period. it’s not his fault the rest of the team can’t goddamn score five-on-five. It’s not his fault the team allows upwards of 30 shots a game. It’s not his fault that his goaltending coach tried to fundamentally tried to change his style of playing, much to his detriment. And it’s not his fault the team kept three healthy goalies up, which surely did a number on Holtby’s confidence.

  • Holtby Fan (Katie)

    Tyler- I’m sorry to say you’re completely clueless. To put this seasons problems all on Holtby is an easy out. Holtby has kept the Caps in many games. He is a phenomenal goaltender who is constantly hung out to dry by his teammates. Defense never shows up when Holtby is in net. He never has help. He can’t do it alone. People-like you- need to stop blaming Holtby and realize defense is our problem. Plus the Caps need to shoot the damn puck to win games. I think Holtby had proved himself multiple times. He is the future goalie of the franchise. If he had some help the Caps wouldn’t be fighting for a place in the playoffs.

  • Debbie Sweet

    I wish that they had started Halak, then when Halak lost yesterday what
    then? Halak is not any better, he just was playing behind a better
    defense.. Case in point, look at Miller’s stats in Buffalo and look at
    Miller’s stats in St Louis. Just go ahead and continue to think it is
    not the defense and keep tossing away good goalies,.. case in point..

  • Bridgett

    You are absolutely 100% correct, they should NOT play Holtby for the rest of the year because it’s not fair to put HIM IN a no win situation with the likes of Green, Oates and McPhee actions, Green makes stupid mistakes that costs us games, Oates is NOT a coach with comments like “they have to figure it out for themselves” well then Coach why do they need you, and don’t get me started on McPhee . So Holtby I will say a little prayer that you do not play the rest of the year and Halak I betcha will NOT sign up with Caps after his year is up !

  • caryoreilly

    It’s not the goalie!!! Look at what Varlamov is doing in Denver! You give yo 40+shots a game while taking only 20-25, you’re going to lose more than you win, no matter who’s in goal. Last night the Caps held the Blues to less than 30 shots, guess who won?