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Is Braden Holtby becoming a star before our eyes?

Apr 19, 2012, 10:17 PM EDT

holtbygetty Getty Images

When it became clear that injuries to Washington Capitals goalies Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth would open the door for unproven youngster Braden Holtby, most chalked up a huge advantage for Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins. Aside from looking relatively human in Game 3, the shoe’s been on the other foot: Holtby has been the best netminder on the ice most nights – and he had to be in a 2-1 win on Thursday.

That was particularly true in the first and third periods.

The Bruins generated a ridiculous 14-3 shot advantage to start things off but Holtby was a brick wall, allowing the Capitals to gasp into the first intermission with a 1-1 tie. Boston then nearly duplicated that effort with a 13-3 edge in the final frame, but this time Holtby was perfect while Alexander Semin scored a blazing game-winner.

Overall, Holtby’s numbers were dazzling: 44 out of 45 shots stopped for his second playoff win. (Boston’s shot advantage wasn’t as lopsided in the second period, but the Bruins still fired a staggering 18 pucks on Holtby without beating him once.)

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Even beyond his mostly-sterling numbers in three of four games, it’s Holtby’s attitude and body language that seems to scream “the right kind of cocky.” More than one Twitter observer remarked about his swaggery glove saves, which are often a sign of a netminder who has the right kind of confidence going.

With the series knotted up 2-2, it’s easy to get carried away. (Like, say, calling him a star in a headline.)

Still, if he can keep this up, he might justify some lofty comparisons made to other goalies who took the playoffs by storm in their first appearances. If nothing else, his debut is smelling a lot like another recent Caps goalie who befuddled scorers for a brief but memorable time.

So far, so great for Holtby. What are your observations about the 93rd pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, though?

  1. drewsylvania - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Could be, though we have no idea what he’s like against closer-range shots, thanks to the up-close-stifling Caps D.

  2. tonyromoisterrible - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Erskine is in there and there is no more non-sense out of Lucy, Betty Burgeron, and Marcha. The Bruins coward like they do when the better team brings out a bruiser. See you in Boston for a 3-2 lead for the CAPS BABY!!!! Bruins out!

    • drewsylvania - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:30 PM

      Too bad for you that school vacation is over soon.

      • drewsylvania - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM

        And I thought Caps fans were intelligent. My bad.

  3. ravenscaps48 - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM


  4. kotteintheslot - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    Saw a lot of Bruins fans saying this series would be over in 5 yesterday assuming they would win this one with Backstrom suspended. If I have done my math correctly, I do not think that is possible.

  5. kantnockdahustle89 - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Holtby is Kolzig 2.0

  6. wethog66 - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Holtby has looked good, but he has gotten lucky on a number of occations. He needs to stop giving up rebounds up the center of the ice. And the D in front of him helped a lot as well. I am also a Caps fan.

    • bethgoesglobal - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:46 AM

      I’ve heard it said before that “it takes a little bit of luck” to be a great goalie. :-)

      • dipthatchip - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

        I concur, but sir wethog is correct. Holtby seems to make difficult saves look effortless, but then floaters to the net he juggles or gives up huge rebounds.

        Not at all trying to be pessimistic, but his rebound control has made me cringe numerous times during this series. That being said, with his numbers right now, he has to tuck his deeyock into his sock

  7. flavadave10 - Apr 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM

    Holtby is doing everything that he has to right now. Props to the Caps defense for forcing the Bruins to have to take shots from bad angles and from near the blue line. That’s called executing a game plan. And I’ve watched Holtby for two years, he’s pretty good with closer shots too. He just has very little rebound control (which is why it’s confusing as to why the Bruins feel so compelled to test his glove when they should be testing his blocker).

  8. tobie1003 - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    Ever since he was drafted, I caps have said he was the best goalie in their camp. I tend to agree!!!GO CAPS

  9. watermelon1 - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:14 AM

    I’d LOVE to see what this guy can do with some actual defenders pkaying in front of him!

  10. bigbadbruins1968 - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Braden Holtby is the “hot” goaltender right now that is so critical for playoff success. He is following in the proud tradition of Tim Thomas, Jaroslav Halak, Cam Ward, JS Gigieure, and many others. Enjoy it while the run lasts.

  11. rockthered1286 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    2 points here:
    1- notice all of the Bruins fans basically saying he’s getting lucky because they are missing their shots and won’t give him any credit for making the saves he should be making, and then some.
    2- Holtby has a confidence that is necessary to be successful. You’re talking about a goalie playing against a team averaging 3.17 goals per game (2nd int he NHL) and taking 32.4 shots per game (3rd in the NHL) with a defense of the Caps allowing 2.76 goals per game (10th worst in the NHL) on an average 30.2 shots against per game (15th in the NHL). Result? Holtby boasts a .953 sv%, 1.75 GAA through 4 games. Not like we’re talking a stellar D here stopping a subpar offense of the Bruins. Fact of the matter is, Holtby is the difference maker in this series and if he continues into the 2nd round with this high level of play? I think Neuvy will be cussing himself out next season while he rides the pine.

    • jrillah10 - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      I would say the Bruins are the ones getting lucky. How many wide open nets have the Caps missed? Thomas gets way to much credit for saves. Ovi missed to wide open shots night. The Bruins are in trouble.

      • ravenscaps48 - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        You can say that again! The Achilles Heel for this team all season has been hitting an open net! We probably should have won 8-10 More Games than we actually did because we missed the open net at some point during the game and ended up losing by 1 goal in regulation or in overtime

  12. jpelle82 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    giving up 45 shots per game is going to wear him down. granted, the bruins just seem to throw everything at the net and hope for a lucky bounce but holtby isnt giving up bad rebounds…yet. you gotta wonder how long he can hold up getting that many shots getting through night in and night out.

    • ravenscaps48 - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      Wis he was on the Penguins right now? Haha

      • jpelle82 - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        no because the pens wouldnt be in the playoffs every year or have a stanley cup without fleury. holtby hasnt done anything yet.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        and just so you know, i’ve been calling for holtby to play all year. caps management had their hand forced and have lucked into this result by default

    • rockthered1286 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      That’s a pretty ill-advised statement. You can’t assume that he WILL be giving up bad rebounds eventually because he is taking 45 shots a night and he’ll wear down. Hell, you can’t even assume he’ll wear down. The way I see it, he has an advantage of spending the year in Hershey and not being subjected to the NHL all season, essentially giving him “fresh legs.” Holtby also has an age advantage at 22 where his body can take more of the wear and tear, and walk away feeling fine. We can also say it’s not like Hotlby is standing on his head making saves, simply because he doesn’t need to do so to catch a puck hitting him in the chest or a dribbler to the crease with no bodies around it. If we were talking about a 30 y/o vet whose played an entire season and is getting pounded with shot and after shot, then I could understand, but otherwise this is a terrible assumption.

  13. fanisy - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    The Bruins are going through what they went through last year against Montreal; they’re getting a lot of shots on net, but none of them are going in right now. They just gotta power through it.

    Oh, and Seguin’s got to actually start playing.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM

      and they will, the caps need to figure that out and start blocking more shots quick before the bounces start going the other way.

      • ravenscaps48 - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        The Washington Capitals rank 2nd in the Post Season with 90 Blocked Shots… New York is 1st with 96… And the Bruins are 8th with 60…. Try to be uneducated somewhere else!

  14. caps247 - Apr 20, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Whew… Holtby is most likely the future for the Caps, but you have to give credit to the defense for helping him out. I mean, they actually played enough D to call “pretty good”.
    I just caught myself wondering if the Caps could win a cup this season with a 22 year old rookie goalie, but we will see how things turn out…

    • ravenscaps48 - Apr 20, 2012 at 7:53 PM

      Anything is possible man… Hot Goalie, Great Defense, and Consistent Offense, certainly sounds like we possess all three components for it…. Need to convert on the PRIME scoring chances… Looking at you, Ovie and Wideman!

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