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Capitals are sticking with Holtby as starter

Jun 17, 2014, 9:02 AM EST

Braden Holtby Getty Images

Washington goaltender Braden Holtby endured a rough 2013-14 campaign where he appeared to lose the starting job at various times to rookie Philipp Grubauer and trade acquisition Jaroslav Halak. Despite that, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan remains committed to starting next season with Holtby as the team’s number one goaltender.

MacLellan thinks they can get more out of Holtby next season and he suggested that former coach Adam Oates’ policies might have been partially responsible for Holtby’s decline.

“I think there was coaching philosophy change that (Holtby) wasn’t totally comfortable with,” MacLellan told the Washington Post. “I think it changed a little bit throughout the season. Circumstances might have affected his play throughout last year.”

That meshes with Holtby’s assertion in April that Oates’ desire to have goaltenders play deeper in the crease didn’t coincide with his natural instincts.

MacLellan does plan on adding a backup goaltender over the summer though so that 22-year-old Grubauer can get plenty of playing time in the minors.

  1. Eutaw's Finest - Jun 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    As they should. Far too many pressing needs to be spending money on a goalie in free agency when you have a young kid in Holtby who has shown flashes of brilliance. Hopefully the Kolzig’s replacement makes a difference too. From what I understand he’s all about playing to your goalies strengths not changing his style.

  2. dsume001 - Jun 17, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Yeah but who is Holtbeast back up? Halak and Nuevy gone. Who are they looking into adding that’s open on the market?

    • cliffatola - Jun 17, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      This year is a good year for teams looking for FA goalies, Brodeur, Chad Johnson from the Bruins, Hiller from ANH are three I can think of right off hand.

      • govtminion - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Johnson would be an interesting choice for them- he impressed me in Boston this season. Hiller would, to me, be a better overall choice for starting than Holtby overall, but that’s not exactly the worst problem to have for the Caps… Brodeur though is going to be a lot of money for someone who was… let’s be honest, pretty bad oftentimes for the Devils last year. I’d be very disappointed if the Caps go that route.

      • rsl22 - Jun 17, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        Brodeur would be an interesting choice to help groom Holtby. I think the Caps could afford him and still have plenty of $$ to shore up the defense. He may be a perfect stop-gap while Grubauer learns in AHL.

      • cliffatola - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        If you guys look at what he did prior to Oates’ being in DC, he was as solid a goalie as they have had. Oates came in and starting messing with his positioning telling him he was susceptible to back door goals because he came out too high on shooters. If that is the case you have a defense problem and changing his positioning is simple geometry more to shoot at. Kolzig being a fan favorite yes did not have stellar numbers in his career so I am not sure what they thought when they made him the goaltending coach and all of their goaltenders should flourish under Korn. I think Brodeur would be a great mentor for Holtby but I suspect he is going to go somewhere that is closer to winning a Cup if he can find it, although DC is close to NJ and his kids so it is possible. I don’t think Vokoun should be an option because if his health doesn’t hold up then Grubauer is shuttling back and forth again. As dysfunctional as the Caps were last year I thought Grubauer at times gave them their best chance to win and at this point he has been in Hershey long enough that coming to DC full time and possibly starting 15-25 games is the next and best step for him though.

    • capsnbohs23 - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      Vokoun or Thomas Greiss would be great backups

      • govtminion - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        I’m assuming that the Caps aren’t going to try to throw more money at Tomas Vokoun at this point.

      • capsnbohs23 - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        He would be playing under Trotz again with old goalie coach Korn, it would be dumb to not even consider it

      • rsl22 - Jun 17, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        A cheap Vokoun is definitely plausible for above reasons. B-Mac, as head of professional scouting, is the one who signed him a couple years back, wouldn’t be surprising to see him do it again.

  3. dipthatchip - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    an expected announcement, but still a welcomed one.

    I really hope with the new staff he can find his confidence and rhythm again. Consistency is really all he lacks, and I’m sure the coaches tampering with his instincts last year while his entire team was in free-fall didn’t help.

    Now get on resigning Grabo. Per wikipedia- Mikhail Grabovski is a Belarusian former professional ice hockey player. He is now a professional soccer player in Belarus. lolwut

    • Eutaw's Finest - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      He signed on to play soccer/futbol back home, with a contractual stipulation saying that he can opt out as soon as hockey starts back up.

      http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2014/06/02/ufa-mikhail-grabovski-has-signed-with-a-soccer-team/

      • dipthatchip - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:59 AM

        well I’ll be damned. Guess I need to read RMNB more

      • Eutaw's Finest - Jun 17, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        RMNB is phenomenal for Caps updates. And all things slightly related to Caps but not necessarily 100% hockey affiliated. Stamp of approval provided.

  4. phtjoey - Jun 17, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Very difficult to ask of a goalie to make major adjustments to his play at this juncture of a career. Let him go and make minor tweaks.

  5. ludacrish05 - Jun 17, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    I believe it was Oates that changed his game, even Halak player real deep in net. Holtby will have a better season and Amen to letting Oates go. I thought he’d do better but he went as far as pumping players back to the AHL because they were too many right handed players and not enough left.

    • cliffatola - Jun 17, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      It is logic like that from Oates that makes him a candidate to be a career assistant coach among his other quirks. Telling players to change stick lengths and curves is too fine of a detail for a head coach to be paying attention to. The Caps will be better off without him.

  6. krebsy34 - Jun 17, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Mitch Korn knows how to coach goalies and I think it shows by the goalies he has coached. Hasek, Dunham, Vokoun, Ellis, Mason, Rinne. While this aren’t all Hall of Famers, but when they were called upon to play, they played well. When some of them left the Preds they were unable to find the same success. I have to think it’s because of the coaching they got.

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