Braden Holtby (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Washington Capitals netminder Braden Holtby has seen his game improve in a big way this season and it has carried over to the post-season. Watch as New York Rangers winger Carl Hagelin thinks he's got Holtby beat on a penalty shot only to have Holtby's glove flash out and rob what could have been the Rangers' tying goal.
It may come as a surprise to some, but the best statistically performing goaltender remaining in the post-season isn't Carey Price and it's not Henrik Lundqvist. Heck, it's not even Ben Bishop, who posted a Game 7 shutout against Detroit and has turned aside almost every offering from the Montreal Canadiens in the second round. No, it's Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.
Following Thursday's games, Holtby had posted a 1.48 goals-against average, .950 save percentage, a shutout and, as if something was missing from his list of post-season achievements, he added one incredible glove stop on New York Rangers winger Carl Hagelin. Not to mention it was a penalty shot:
The glove stop came after Hagelin was hauled down on a breakaway by Capitals defenseman Mike Green. Then, on the penalty shot, Hagelin moved in slowly before shifting gears and moving the puck quickly from forehand to backhand. With lightning reflexes, Holtby flashed his glove out and snatched the puck out of the air.
The Capitals -- who went on to win the contest 2-1 and take a 3-1 stranglehold on the series -- have got to be impressed with how goaltending coach Mitch Korn has impacted Holtby's game.
Last season, Holtby was a 23-15-4 goaltender with a 2.85 GAA and .915 SP. He answered that with a campaign where he went 41-20-10 and cut his GAA to 2.22 while his SP jumped to .923.
Entering the post-season, there weren't many who picked the Capitals as Stanley Cup champions, but if Holtby's strong play continues, it might be foolish not to consider Washington going all the way.