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Holtby’s been key in Capitals’ surge

Apr 6, 2013, 12:50 PM EDT

Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals defends his goal as the puck goes wide on a shot by Chris Kreider #24 of the New York Rangers during the shootout in an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden on March 24, 2013 in New York City. Capitals won 3-2 in a shootout.
(March 23, 2013 - Source: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have gone from 30th in the NHL to tying the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Southeast Division despite having played in two fewer games than the Jets.

There have been a lot of players that have stepped up for the Capitals, but perhaps the most critical has been goaltender Braden Holtby.

After his stunning performance in the 2012 playoffs, the 23-year-old netminder struggled initially this season, but has bounced back with a 2.19 GAA and .929 save percentage in his last 18 starts.

At the same time, he’s proven himself as a workhorse.

“He always want the ball,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said of Holtby, according to CSN Washington. “I haven’t seen him not want the ball yet. That’s a great character in a player.”

Holtby has started in 24 of Washington’s last 27 games, although Michal Neuvirth might get a start on Sunday for the first time since March 16.

For his part, Holtby downplayed his importance.

“We go as a unit,” Holtby said. “Your goaltender is only as good as your team, and your team is only as good as your goaltender. It’s never a case of one guy is the show. We go as a group and that’s why we win games.”

If they keep winning games like this, they will be in a great position to complete their comeback and secure the third seed.

  1. operwapitsai - Apr 6, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    go caps

  2. Stiller43 - Apr 6, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    No doubt holtbys improved his play (as have the players in front of him).

    HOWEVER, you should mention their surge wouldnt mean that much if any of the teams formerly ahead of them werent on like 1000 game losing streaks. Carolina and the Jets have been dreadful as of late. Kudos to the caps for turning their season around though.

    • trick9 - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      Jets were actually playing well before Caps destroyed them twice in Winnipeg. Since then they have been free-falling and that will propably continue today.

  3. ludacrish05 - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Please Nuevy, call in sick again

  4. ravenscaps48 - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Yet, Pittsburgh fans still find a way to turn this into a negative. If you watch Caps games, you will see that this teams defense has not gotten much better in front of him. We’re scoring more, but this teams’ Defense still gives me at least three heart attacks per game. Holtby is playing lights out. He’s making HUGE saves and bailing John Carlson and Make Green out of their poor defensive play. Keep it up, #70!

  5. Stiller43 - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Im not turning it into a negative. I said holtbys been great (way better than early in the season especially) and the teams played better (you even said theyre scoring more goals…which means theyre playing better, unless their GAA went up too, which it hasnt).

    But youd have to be a real moron if you choose not to at least acknowledge the other teams in the division being god awful in the last few weeks (part of that had to do with the caps beating them in some of those games). Its not a negative, its the truth.

  6. operwapitsai - Apr 6, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    I also want to add one more thing… when the caps were sagging ovi literally took 100% of the blame. I couldnt even begin to tell you the amount of criticism this man has taken over the last few seasons and now that he he back to form I havent heard one mention of his success besides a little sidenote here or there. I believe more than anything the reason the caps are back in top form is because of the resurgence f the gr8 8….thanks ovi

  7. thecrabcakestate - Apr 6, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    operwapitsai is right unfortunately. Other than the occasional highlight Ovie has disappeared now that he’s playing good again. I’d like to hear millbury talk now. What would he rip him for. Oh yeah, he’s Russian and his name isn’t Sydney.

  8. operwapitsai - Apr 6, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    thanks for backing up my comments tonight ovi. HAT TRICK! youre right crabcake all these north american talking heads dont seem too fond of all these overseas players

  9. prosportswashington - Apr 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    I would like to see something done to tighten up the D and the PK, were second last in PK and not doing well on D really. Still, wins are wins!

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