How Braden Holtby turned things around after getting pulled against Toronto


With all the fanfare surrounding Alex Oveckhin's 1,000th point, with Nicklas Backstrom earning his 500th assist, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring 11 points in his last nine games, it's easy to forget about the man in net. Yet, Braden Holtby may be playing better than all of them right now.

Holtby has been unbeatable of late, allowing only three goals in four games in a stretch that included back-to-back shutouts. The Caps netminder has turned aside 111 of the last 114 shots he's faced for an unreal .974 save percentage.

That level of play has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"He's seeing the puck right now through traffic whether it's on power play or whatnot on the rushes," Nate Schmidt said. "He's been doing a fantastic job at really locating the puck.

"It doesn't seem like there's any holes in him, he's controlling rebounds, it's just composed," Justin Williams said after practice on Thursday. "I'm certainly not a goalie critic so if I can see that, I'm sure the goaltending coaches and him are happy with the way he's going."


Holtby's incredible run came on the heels of one of his worst performances of the season. On Jan. 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Holtby gave up three goals on eight shots and was pulled after just one period of play.

According to Holtby, the problem wasn't just that one game.

"I just didn't feel comfortable in certain situations. I kind of took it to my practice habits a bit."

Holtby has responded well after poor performances throughout his career, but he has taken it to another level with this current streak. The game against Toronto forced Holtby to recognize he needed to change things in practice.

"I think sometimes when you have a game, it sort of hits you between the eyes and you go, ok, what's going on here?" Barry Trotz said. "I think you sort of reassess how things are and I think [Holtby] was just able to get back to some of the basic things. He's really good at bouncing back. Historically, he's been really good that way.

"I think he beared down and cleaned up a couple things that maybe got a little loose in his game and by watching some film, talking with our goalie coaches and got that straightened away."

"You don't get scoring chances in games like you do in practice and it was almost creating bad habits for myself trying too hard," Holtby said. "So just simplifying, making myself feel more comfortable in situations in the game."

The results speak for themselves.

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: What will Ovechkin do for an encore?

Contact Us