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Braden Holtby gets the start in Washington’s biggest game of the year

Mar 27, 2012, 12:48 PM EDT

Braden Holtby AP

When Tomas Vokoun signed with the Caps in the offseason, games like tonight’s tilt with the Sabres that sees the winner take control of the final playoff spot in the East are the kind that he was brought in to play.

Thanks to a nagging injury, however, Vokoun won’t be playing and the starting duties instead fall to 22-year-old Braden Holtby. As Chuck Gormley from hears from Holtby, he’s fired up to get at it tonight.

“It’s a big game but at the same time it’s just another one,” said Holtby who is 2-1-1 for the Capitals this season, including a 3-0 shutout over Minnesota on Sunday. “It counts as two points, just like all the others do. You’ve got to go into it with that mindset, but there will be a little extra motivation to have the team going and get a win.”

The added motivation is to make sure the scorching hot Sabres don’t go sprinting past them and into the playoffs while the Caps are left to keep clawing away to keep up with them and the Ottawa Senators.

For Holtby, he’s seen pressure games before in the AHL helping Hershey to win a Calder Cup in 2010. It’s just a little different on the NHL stage though and this is as close to a playoff game as he’s going to see. No pressure, kid.

  1. govtminion - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Vokoun is a free agent this summer, and Neuvirth hasn’t been particularly awe-inspiring. Can we just put Holtby in next year and see what happens with Neuvirth as the backup?

    • dougr42 - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      Except that Neuvirth is the same kind of hot young talent that Holtby is. He just hasn’t been as hot this year as last. Don’t forget that last year he took the starting job from Varly.

  2. dougr42 - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    “this is as close to a playoff game as he’s going to see”

    Until the playoffs…. So you’re saying that if the Caps do make the playoffs Holtby won’t play? I don’t buy that for a second. If they do make it, it’ll be partly because of him. No reason not to start him. Not like Neuvy is a stellar playoff performer.

  3. capsfan3105 - Mar 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    I’ve been saying Holtby should have been the starter since he came in and won all those games last year. Vokoun is no longer a NHL-caliber goaltender to be blunt. Whatever he had he has lost. Even his style is awkward – he leaves gnarly gaps so big you could drive a truck into them.

    All Washington needs is a hot goalie. Seeding doesn’t matter, the regular season doesn’t matter, nothing matters once the playoffs start. The league is too good to count anybody out at this point. They seem to be heating up (just like Buffalo unfortunately) at the right time. Here’s to hoping they can ride this momentum to the Cup.

    • dougr42 - Mar 27, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      ….not having a number 1 center or a consistent defense “matter” when the playoffs start.

    • danphipps01 - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:07 PM

      … yeah, hate to break it to you, buddy, but having like two passable goal-scorers, one of which is putting out just over half of what we all know he’s capable of when he feels like it, comically awful defense and one quality centreman at the BEST of times (and these, my friend, are not the best of times) does all kinda play into the odds of surviving a playoff round. The Caps really shouldn’t be struggling so hard. Whether they’re in the first round or not, they have no realistic chance of making the second.

  4. keepyerstickontheice - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Chased. Now Nordberg.

    Stay in the sticks.


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