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Is Braden Holtby becoming a star before our eyes?

Apr 19, 2012, 10:17 PM EDT

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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?

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