Key Stat: All the way back in November, Braden Holtby turned in 27 saves in a win against Pittsburgh (portending victories of greater magnitude, perhaps?) to win his 200th career game. This made Holtby the fastest goaltender to 200 career wins since a guy you might have heard of, Ken Dryden, and the fastest to 200 in the post-lockout era.
Interesting Stat: It’s Braden Holtby lifetime achievement day — on February 13th, five minutes into a 4-3 loss in Winnipeg, Braden Holtby spent his 20,000th minute between the pipes of an NHL net. Holtby is only the second goaltender in Capitals franchise history to breach that mark, and now sights down Olaf Kolzig’s mark of 41,260 minutes in the Caps’ net.
The Good: Holtby demonstrated a pretty stark performance binary between the regular season and the playoffs. Thankfully the good side of that binary was the playoffs, where you’d much rather it happen. Via Corsica, Holtby finished the playoffs with a stellar .932 5v5 save percentage (including an eye-popping .990 success rate on low-danger shots — no problem with softies during these playoffs), a 2.14 GAA, and dropping back-to-back shutouts in elimination games in the Eastern Conference Final on the League’s most prolific offense, after not securing a shutout for the duration of the regular season.
Most importantly, he won 16 games when it mattered most, and authored the signature moment not just of his career, but also for the entire organization. When Lord Stanley is your takehome at year’s end, there’s not a whole lot about what came before it that mattered.
The Bad: That said, the regular season wasn’t a pretty one for the former Vezina winner. For one, he lost his job to Phillip Grubauer, largely on account of Grubauer’s seizing the opportunity with authority (until he didn’t). But the opportunity was because Holtby put up some pretty unHoltbylike numbers. Holtby’s .917 ranked 38th in the League among netminders with over 1000 minutes in net, which put him in a cohort alongside the likes of Cam Ward, Keith Kincaid, Cam Talbot, and James Reimer. With all due respect to those gentleman, our expectation of Holtby is to be somewhat separated from the goaltending hoi polloi.
2017-2018 held career worsts for Holtby in overall save percentage, wins (in full season in which he was the presumptive starter), goals against average, and shutouts. But no one’s going to remember any of that.
Holtby’s Goals Saved Above Average per 60 (by @ChartingHockey, Tableau here):
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: Holtby’s 2017-18 begs the question - which is the real Braden Holtby going forward, the one we saw in the regular season or the playoff hero? How will the likely loss of goalie coach/advisor Mitch Korn impact Holtby’s game? With Ilya Samsonov coming to North America for the coming season, is Braden Holtby both the short- and long-term goaltender for this club (and if so, for how long)? How many times have you watched The Save? What would it take for you to give him a “10” next year?
Other Holtby Season Reviews: RMNB
How do you rate Braden Holtby’s 2017-18 season?
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