Before the 2015-2016 season began, we visited the notion that Braden Holtby is a "slow-starter". Looking at his professional career dating back to the AHL obfuscated the notion somewhat, but it's clear that since Holtby arrived at the show, he's gotten better as the year's gone on.
Here's a look at his GAA and Save% splits by month for his young career, coming into this season (October 2015 not included in the data) .
(Note that the GAA axis is inverted
because JP wants to see the world burn so it intuitively represents Holtby's improvement over time.)
So, now that we're into November, how'd Holtby fare in his first October as a very rich man? He started eight games in October 2015, so in order to get an apples-to-apples comparison, we'll take a look at a gauntlet of goaltending metrics for Holtby's first eight games every year since 2012, when he took over as top dog.
(data from war-on-ice)
Holtby has put up career-best starts in 5v5 Sv%(probably conventionally the most standard indicator of a goaltender's performance), Adjusted Save % (from war-on-ice: Adjusted save percentage; this adjusts for the fact that some teams give up more high-quality shots, while others give up more low-quality shots. This is the weighted-average of SvPctHigh, SvPctMed, and SvPctLow, where the weights correspond to the league-wide percentage of shots from each of those areas. In other words, this is a goalies save percentage if they faced a league average proportion of shots from each of the three shooting zones (high, medium, and low probability of success), Low and Medium danger Save %, and 4v5 Sv%.
So yeah, early returns show that Holtby's earning his bigger paychecks, and most notably by patching up the leaks that plagued him last year (improvements of 95% to 100% save percentage on low danger shots, and 87.5% to 97.5% on medium danger shots).
In the past we've identified that Holtby thrives somewhat when he's seeing a lot of rubber.
Well, since Barry Trotz arrived on the scene, the Oatesian consequence of hemorrhaging shots against has been addressed with efficacy, and for whatever reason Holtby doesn't seem to be having any problem maintaining focus while he backstops the League's 2nd most-effective shot suppression unit (the same of which can't be said for last season).
Whether or not the first three episodes in Holtby's saga as the Caps' number one netminder dictate that he's a "slow-starter", what he's done in the early going of 2015-2016 should be enough to shake the label.