Braden Holtby (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals look legit lately. You can point to better defense or a more focussed team approach, but Braden Holtby's efforts in net cannot be overlooked. He's been spectacular.
Nation’s capitals from Ottawa and Washington met on Monday night and at first glance, it seemed like it was going to be a high-scoring affair when Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin walked in on Senators goalie Craig Anderson three times off the wing in the first minute of play. It was, however, the complete opposite.
Goaltending was front and centre and Braden Holtby and Craig Anderson were the stars.
Saves like the one below from Holtby, where he absolutely robs Clarke MacArthur were on display:
While Anderson offered another consistent effort and some glove work of his own:
In the end, Holtby came out on top despite Ottawa outshooting Washington 39-23 and made a huge late game save to notch a 2-1 win for the Capitals. The netminder made 38 saves, including 15 in the third period to each the victory.
Holtby hasn’t lost a game since December 2nd against Vancouver and is a big part of the Capitals recent success. Although he’s had nights where he’s given up a lot of goals during this stretch – seven against Columbus in two games and five against Tampa Bay in two games - he’s kept the Capitals afloat and had a shutout streak of 101:03 snapped tonight by Erik Condra, who also gave Holtby a shot to the face with his stick for good measure.
After last season, skeptics were pointing to Holtby’s 2.85 goals-against-average as an indication that he may not be deserving of the starting job in Washington, but the 25-year-old native of Lloydminster, Sask. makes spectacular saves on the regular and is a game-changing goaltender who has literally saved the Capitals from losses on more than one occasion. Washington needs him as their starter.
Holtby said in a CSN post-game interview at the Verizon Center that, “We’re paying more attention to detail, while becoming more comfortable in low scoring games and if we can continue to do this, we’ll be in good shape.”
From the sounds of Holtby and the performance of the Capitals in this game and of late, Barry Trotz’s defense-minded approach is starting to come together and if it's backed by fantastic netminding, the rest of the Metropolitan division should watch out.