Braden Holtby (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
In this week's online mailbag, columnist Adam Proteau answers questions on a Penguins freshman's shot at rookie-of-the-year, a way to end NHL shootouts, Caps goalie Braden Holtby's struggles and more.
We got lots of good questions in for THN’s mailbag this week. Thanks to everyone who submitted one or more. And feel free to continue sending them via this handy form.
Hi Adam, What is wrong with the Capitals' goaltending? Their goalies, particularly Braden Holtby, have allowed an astounding number of goals within two minutes of a Caps goal (last time I checked a few weeks ago, it was over 22, but I am certain that number is higher). Is the issue coaching, defense, or the goalies themselves? How should they address this problem?
Ben Gorbaty, Baltimore, Md.
I don’t blame Holtby for all of the Caps’ woes. As I said Thursday after Columbus rolled over them, I think Oates is the last guy in line for serious criticism. Holtby isn’t at his best right now, but the bigger question is why GM George McPhee put all the chips of his veteran-laden team on a 24-year-old goalie who has yet to play 100 regular-season NHL games. It took Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop until he was 27 to blossom into the Vezina Trophy frontrunner he is this season.
Complicating matters is the fact Washington’s defense corps is not known as the NHL’s biggest shutdown unit.
Holtby, backup Michal Neuvirth and just about every other goalie in the league would be hard-pressed to look good with the guys the Caps would play in front of him. Holtby isn’t blame-free in all this, but I always think it’s hugely unfair to point the finger at a goalie in this situation. They don’t play in a vacuum, but their role as a key player sometimes makes it appear that way.
Long time fan of your work! My teammates and I were discussing (arguing?) how to settle games that are tied at the end of regulation. We came up with the concept of "the 4th period."
If a game is tied at the end of regulation, play a full 15-minute period (no sudden death) because there's nothing more exciting than the last few minutes of a close game. If the game is tied, say, 1-1 at the end of three and tied again at the end of the 4th period (1-1, 2-2, 3-3, whatever) it’s a tie and each team gets one point. If the game isn’t tied at the end of the 4th, two points for the winner, nothing for the loser. Your thoughts?
Pete Bauer, South Bend, Ind.
Thanks for the kind words. I’ve heard variations of this concept, and while there’s definitely some competitive merit to it, my problem remains: ties. There are a lot of people in hockey who will tell you they had no problems with the era of tie games, but I’m not one of them. I think when you pay as much money as fans do to attend games, you deserve some type of emotional payoff, bad or good, and ties don’t provide that.
Besides, the way coaches approach games nowadays, I’d bet fans get sick of ties in a hurry. Remember, all these games currently going to a shootout would be ties in the old era; if that era were still around, we’d be talking about a tie epidemic instead of the shootout epidemic. I’ll take the latter over the former any day.
Do you feel Olli Määttä has a chance at the Calder? Thanks.
Paul S., Pittsburgh
A chance? Sure, if he really turns on the jets in the latter part of the season. But a good chance? No. I’d put any one of Nathan MacKinnon, Mark Scheifele, Tyler Johnson and Chris Kreider ahead of him at this stage.
That’s not to say Maatta isn’t a very solid freshman and an important piece of the puzzle for the Penguins. But his time-on-ice average of 17:33 isn’t a number that works in his favor (he’s 22nd among rookies in that regard) and his offense (five goals and 20 points) hasn’t been head and shoulders or hips and knees above the rest of the field.
Barring a big-time jump in his play, Maatta should be happy he’s in the NHL and on the same team as Sidney Crosby. For many players, that’s more important than any trophy.
How the heck did TSN/RDS get a 12-year television and radio broadcasting deal in the wake of Rogers' 12-year all-Canadian broadcast deal with the NHL? Is it possible TSN could announce similar deals in the future (fingers crossed)? Thanks!
Brandon Sparks, Fredericton, N.B.
That agreement was for the Senators’ regional broadcasting rights, as opposed to the mammoth national deal Rogers struck with the NHL. TSN/RDS already has long-term regional contracts in place with the Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Canucks and Jets, so there are only Alberta targets remaining for them. But after losing their spot on the national rights scene, TSN certainly has the motivation and financial wherewithal to bid aggressively on any hockey product that comes up for grabs.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.