Washington Capitals Report Card: Braden Holtby

Braden Holtby

Stats:  GP 14, GS 12, 10-2-2, SV% .934, GAA 1.79, SO 2
EV Save% .930, SAA 2.47, z-score .21

Player Card

Holtby may have been my biggest surprise this season. I knew he was putting up decent numbers in the ECHL and in Hershey last year but I didn’t think that Washington would need to have him play in so many games this year. I was expecting Holtby to be only called-up on an emergency basis but I should figured that he was going to play in a few games soon enough with how often Neuvirth and Varlamov were hurt. I am not going to lie, I was never that high on Holtby before and how he performed in his first call-up didn’t exactly make things better. After that? I was just floored by what he did in late January and through a good portion of March. He really exemplified how much talent the Caps have at goaltender in their system now and why trading/overpaying for one would be stupid in every way possible.

As you can see from Holtby’s stats, he performed very well at the NHL level with a save percentage of over .930 and two shutouts to boot. However, he didn’t start off that well. His first call-up included two awful outings against Atlanta and New Jersey (albeit, he also had decent games against Boston, Philly and Buffalo during that tenure, as well) and had many people (myself included) that it would be the last time we saw Holtby in a Caps uniform. Then injuries to Varlamov and Neuvirth occurred which required him to play a few games in January where he allowed only three goals on 90 shots in a three game stretch including a 35 save performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night In Canada. Unfortunately, his aggressive style of play was exposed during a shootout in the Rangers where he was deked out of his pads by Wojtek Wolski and Mats Zuccarrello. However, he showed vast improvement in a later shootout against Tampa Bay, stopping all three shooters and delivering this now golden moment.

Holtby was victorious in all six games of his third call-up and allowing only six goals on 158 shots. He also earned his first two NHL shutouts in games against the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens. Granted, he was not tested much in either of those games as he only had to make 22 saves against the Oil and 18 against the Habs. While Holtby’s numbers are undeniably impressive, I can’t help but me a tad skeptical of how he will perform in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I like just about everything I have seen from him but a .934 save percentage from a 22 year old goalie is going to obviously regress. So will his .942 save percentage on the penalty kill. He does look like he can be a solid goalie for this team very soon but I wouldn’t let Varlamov to promote Holtby full-time just yet. Although, it might be better for him to get more NHL playing time sooner rather than later.

For a grade on this year, I’m giving Holtby an A-. The minus is for the two really, really bad games, but he deserves the A for sure. I said all year that goaltending was one of the last things I was worried about with this team and his play (along with Neuvy and Varly’s) proved that. He had to bail the team out in quite a few games this year and surpassed just about every expectation I had for him.  We are lucky to have this kind of talent in the system.

Favorite Moment of the Year


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