From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2010-11 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2011-12. Next up, Braden Holtby.
#70 / Goalie / Washington Capitals
Sep 16, 1989
Parts of 2
$637,777 cap hit in 2011-12; RFA summer 2013
|Regular Season (NHL)
|Regular Season (AHL)
Key Stat: Including the playoffs, Holtby has made 28 consecutive starts (and 30-straight appearances) without posting back-to-back losses.
Interesting Stat: Holtby became just the third goalie in NHL history to have a goals against average of 2.00 and a save percentage of .920 in a single playoff season (minimum 14 games) at age 22 or younger, joining Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur
The Good:Throw out the bizarre last-minute-recall-and-start he had in February against the Sharks and Holtby's 2012 in the NHL looked a lot like his dazzling 2010-11 debut:11-8-1/1.96/.935, if you include the playoffs (4-1-1/1.97/.936 if you don't). Upon his second recall (in mid-March), Holtby promptly went into Detroit and won (yielding only one goal while the ultimate result was still in doubt) and followed up that performance with a 2-1 shootout loss in Philly (in which his only real mistake was being overly aggressive on a Claude Giroux breakaway) and a home shutout of the Wild; in one week, Holtby secured five of six points for a Caps team that was fighting for its playoff life.
Then, 5:39 into the second period on April 5 in the season's penultimate game, Holtby relieved an injured Michal Neuvirth and didn't relinquish the cage thereafter, going on a 9-7-0/1.95/.935 tear. That run, of course, included out-dueling the reigning Vezina trophy winner (with aplomb) in Round 1, and arguably out-playing this year's likely Vezina winner in defeat in Round 2. It also included winning every single game that followed a Caps loss (if the Rangers series was a best-of-nine, you'd probably have been safe betting the house on the Caps in Game 8), and that included bounce-back victories following gut-wrenching overtime losses in Game 6 of the Bruins series, in triple-overtime in Game 3 against New York, and after losing the lead and subsequently the game in the dying (almost literally for Caps fans) minutes of Game 5 of that series. Oh, and if that isn't strong enough evidence of his mental fortitude, he played the first 13 games of the playoffs with his fiancee ready to give birth to the couple's first child at any moment... before she did two days before Game 7 (a 29-save, 2-1 season-ending loss).
All told, Holtby gave up one goal or less in eight of his 20 NHL starts in 2012 and two or fewer in 12 of those 20. He gave the Caps a chance to win almost every time out, and took it upon himself to do the winning as often as not.
The Bad: Um... there were a couple of missed poke checks, a handful of goals he'd want back and some rebound-control issues, but most every criticism of Holtby's play can be dismissed with a perhaps overly absolving reminder of his age and inexperience. When "he hasn't been quite as good as the unsustainably sparkling numbers he's pretty much managed to sustain for 32 games over two seasons, including 14 in the playoffs against the top-two seeds in the Conference" is among the harshest judgments you can level against a 22-year-old, things are going pretty well.
The Vote: Rate Holtby below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: With Dany Sabourin locked in for another year in Hershey, how do you see the Bears splitting starts between Holtby and Sabourin? Just kidding. Is Holtby a lock for the number one goalie job with the big club in 2012-13? What's the ideal workload for him next year? What areas of his game need the most work? Does he already own the number 70? Finally, what will it take for Holtby to earn a "10" next season?