George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau like taking a measured approach to introducing goalies to their first NHL action. In this case, Holtby is in his first professional season, so I think his recall would follow the pattern that the recalls of Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth did last year. I don't think Braden Holtby would play for at least a week unless Neuvirth couldn't for some reason, or if he was getting shelled in a game in a very bad way. I don't think Jose Theodore and Varlamov will be out for too long, so Holtby's stay should be a short and uneventful one.
Now that Braden Holtby has been recalled for the third time this season, I think this post should be revisited. He has proven himself more than capable at both the ECHL and AHL levels, I think it is plausible he sees some game action on this recall. I do believe, however, that will depend on a number of circumstances.
On the other hand, if it is just Holtby and Neuvirth here until the Olympic Break, I can see Holtby getting into two games. I don't think George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau want Holtby to play in games before he is ready, meaning they'll want to get him at least a week of practice facing NHL shooters before he plays in a game, they learned their lesson from Michal Neuvirth in that regard. I don't think they'll want to rush him, but if they think he's ready, they may decide they want to get a look at him. The Capitals last game before the Olympics is February 13th at St. Louis, and in the ten games before the break, the Capitals play two sets of back to back games. If Holtby is still here by Friday, February 5th, I think he would play the home game versus the Atlanta Thrashers; I certainly don't think he would play the first game of the back-to-back, 2/4 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. If he is still here on Thursday, February 11, I'd say he'd get the game in Ottawa against the Senators, but that assumes he plays well in his first game. I'm not so sure about that one, though, as I think Ottawa is playing better than the Montreal Canadiens at the moment, but Montreal would be a more intimidating place to play your first game. Holtby is not Varlamov. Yes Varly's first game was in Montreal, but he'd also been to the KHL final the year before. Holtby's got a grand total of 30 games of professional experience under his belt.
Here are Holtby's numbers this year:
Holtby's AHL Stats: 18 GP, 15-2-1, 1.82 GAA, .935 Sv%
Holtby's ECHL Stats: 12GP, 7-2-1-2, 2.95 GAA, .911 Sv%, plus an All-Star Appearance
And here are Holtby's junior career stats.
Based on what Tarik El-Bashir has written, it looks like Boudreau will take a measured approach for now and not throw Holtby into the fire. Even though he says he expects Holtby "to cheer on the bench," it's the responsibility of a backup goalie to prepare for every game as if he's going to play. Varlamov knew this on his call-up, but Michal Neuvirth struggled with that and it cost him a game. We'll see if Holtby gets the chance to show that side.
I'd love to hear what you think on the matter.