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.