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Posted at 8:01 AM ET, 01/25/2011

Goalie Braden Holtby the victim of unlucky bounce

By Gene Wang

The Washington Capitals have been pressed into a goalie carousel this season in part because of injuries, and during this latest stretch, Coach Bruce Boudreau has leaned on Braden Holtby in net.

Last night, Holtby made his third consecutive start, and although Washington lost to the New York Rangers in a shootout, 2-1, the rookie continued to make a case that he can be entrusted with those duties in the long term if either Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth are unavailable.

Holtby stopped 28 of 29 shots, helping the Capitals collect a point for a fifth straight game. A fluky bounce led to the Rangers' goal in regulation, which officials had to review before allowing it to stand. The puck first hit off Holtby's right arm blocker after Brian Boyle's shot, then bounced off New York right wing Marian Gaborik and sailed into the net amid congestion in front of the crease.

"It was a goal that even the Rangers didn't know they scored," Boudreau said. "So when you hold a team to one goal, for 30 shots, he did very well."

It was Holtby's first loss in three games since being recalled from Hershey as Neuvirth mends from a lower body injury suffered in a 3-2 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 18. Holtby beat the New York Islanders, 2-1, on Thursday, stopping 24 shots. Two days later, he made 35 saves in a 4-1 victory at Toronto.

Holtby, 21, didn't get much help from his teammates through the first two-plus periods Monday night, when the Capitals managed 13 shots. Washington cranked up the pressure thereafter, though, and logged a season-high six overtime shots to just one for the Rangers.

"There were some lucky bounces," said Holtby, who has stopped 87 of 90 shots in his past three starts. "But when a team is throwing pucks at the net from up top, one of them is bound to go in after a while. You can't really blame anyone on that. That's just kind of a bounce that you're going to have to deal with."

If there was any part of Holtby's performance that needed refinement, preventing rebounds was it. He let a handful get away but escaped trouble until that unlikely carom.

In his seventh start of the season, Holtby also was unsteady during the first shootout of his career, yielding three goals, including the winner to Artem Anisimov. Wojtek Wolski and Mats Zuccarello, who is 4 for 4 in shootouts, also beat Holtby.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't feel like I played that strongly throughout the game," Holtby said. "I thought my rebounds were pretty bad, and when that bounce went in, all I could really say was one finally went in because I got away with numerous mistakes before that."

By Gene Wang  | January 25, 2011; 8:01 AM ET
Categories:  Braden Holtby  
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Next: Capitals' Alex Ovechkin may be regaining his form

Comments

G'morning Caps fans. With all that is going wronng with this team, it's reassuring that goal-tending and power play defense have been steady ... all season.

Posted by: ccape1 | January 25, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I am so disappointed about last night's game.

The only way we (the fans) will know if all this "bruceism" works, is what they do in the playoffs (if they get there).

Who in the HECK sits on a 1 goal lead in a regular season game? TWO SHOTS in the first 10+ minutes of the third period.

The Rangers had 7 ROOKIES and their 2nd string goalie in net. AND THE CAPS WERE AT HOME!

I, for one, am glad I didn't trek down to Verizon on a monday night spending all that money on TIX, FOOD, ECT...to watch that boring lifeless effort.

We (the fans) are now resign to the fact to be happy when "WE GET A POINT"...

Great.

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 25, 2011 8:23 AM | Report abuse

A few observations from being at last night's game:

1 - DJK has no business EVER being on the ice. He is unbelievably slow and has very little offensive skill. Hurry back Bradley!!

2 - Ovie played great. Skated hard the entire night and was flyign all over the place

3 - NOBODY ever came to Ovie's defense when he was taking both legal and cheap shots from NYR all night. In Pitt, if someone touches Crosby, Cooke is all over them. I would have like to see someone take a run at Avery or Stall when they tripped Ovie

4 - Holtby played very well, but is not ready for big time (therefore cannot trade Varly or Nuevy just yet). Holtby gives a ton of rebounds in front of the net. But I do think he is very good and has potential to be a great goalie.

5 - Holtby's "Holtbyisms" are hilarious to watch. I had seen an article about his quirkiness and superstitions, but it is great. During long breaks, he skates back and forth, tapping the all 3 goal posts each time; always drinks his water the same way (squirting the boards before)...and there are others.

6 - I think our offense will come. Getting a healthy Semin and Fehr back will add a lot of firepower.

7 - The MP85 experiment must end.

Posted by: MattBradley10 | January 25, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Again...need to:

1) Pick up a vet netminder

2) Drop Semin, Fehr, Lil Matt, and possibly 1 goalie (not Holtby).

3) Need to figure out how a team with 2 of the most offensively gifted Defensemen, now get NO offense out of them.


I have confidence in George to make it happen.


Oh, BTW...guys, TAKE A DAY OFF! (lol...great one Ted)

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 25, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

At least Cody Eakin in back in action in the WHL now with the Kootenay Ice. In two games over the weekened he had two goals and an assist. Better than than anything Boudreau is running out there night after night on the front lines.

Posted by: dull | January 25, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Shut the F up SoaringCaps, we are only six points behind the Philly for the league lead. We are top ten in goals allowed and second on the PK; once we get Semin, Bradley, and Fehr back we will be a lot better on offense. The only trade I think we need to make is for a C2 but don't really know who. Who do you think?

Posted by: redmatt | January 25, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Holtby looked good in regulation, minus the rebounds that he acknowledged he needs to control.

But he looked completely lost in the shootout. He was almost three feet out of the net, the wrong way, on one deke. And on his one save, he was lucky the opponent wasn't quick enough to just lift it over his stick...a high risk, almost-lucky save. I understand shootouts won't be an issue in playoffs, but it's still an area he needs some serious work.

Posted by: VamosUnited | January 25, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Interesting takes from the Leafs last night. Almost every player has called it dirty or similar but their coach said it was "not a sucker punch" and was "appropriate action." Interesting that the coach seems to be calling out his players.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 25, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

attn: SoaringCaps

hey, I agree - But I won't complain until either we miss the playoffs or lose in the first round again.

If either of these two happen - Bruce must go!

Bring in a coach that flashes a stanley cup ring the players faces during practice - That'll get these players moving again.

Posted by: Nats1924 | January 25, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

we are only six points behind the Philly for the league lead.
---------------------------------------
When was the last time this team beat a quality opponent(a top-8 team in either conference)?

More than 3 weeks ago, on New Year's day against the Pens. They still have a long way to go.

Posted by: joek443 | January 25, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

We should package a deal with MP to get Jason Arnott from the Devils to fill that 2nd Line Center slot. UFA after this year...

Posted by: Witter | January 25, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Holtby handled the puck too much last night. When 4 Caps players are in the vicinity he should not be out of his net playing the puck. Its a luxury to have a puck handling goalie for special situations. Too many crazy bounces can happen in NHL rinks.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 25, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

This coming from the guy who said Holtby didn't play well last night, go get some hockey IQ and then maybe we can discuss hockey on an adult basis sgm3.

Posted by: PhilR

Go ahead and watch the tape. Holtby did very well early and he stopped all the first shots, but if you were able to take off your hershey-colored glasses you would have realized that Holtby was really starting to slide a lot in the 2nd and 3rd periods when challenging shooters. This ended up leaving the net wide open for any rebounds or cross ice passes.

It didn't bite the Caps last night, but if he plays that way again it will cost the Caps a few goals. As it did the last time he was called up.

I never said Holtby played poorly, just that he was reverting back to what hurt him the last time he was called up and I was worried about that for future starts. Overcommitting to the first shot and leaving himself without the ability to save a rebound opportunity can be costly.

Also, you really said "go get some hockey IQ", seriously. Was that supposed to be an insult? Your prideful boasts to others consists of "I know more about hockey than you". Wow, good one!

It's funny because you found time to insult me even though all I said was that the GMGM may have to wait a few weeks to make the trade he wants to make due to salary cap restraints.

Wow, that was heinous statement by me. How dare I.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 25, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

@Nats...thanks. I'm just frustrated. I know it sounded like a complaint. But it's frustrating to watch major "all-stars" like Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Green get ZERO points against a team with 7 rookies in the lineup and their backup goalie in.

@RedMat...great, observation. So we have 9 OTL...if we win 1/2, we are in the 2 seed.


Fehr has had 1 good game all year. So let's not bank on his "contribution". For 2 mill a year he should have more than 17 points.

Semin, if he's on, it could be great, but if he is off...I'd rather have Jay Beagle.

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 25, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Of all the craptacular power plays this year, that one in the first period last night may have taken the cake.

Posted by: cao091402 | January 25, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

yesisaiditfirst -

I didn't think Holtby handled the puck too much. I was pretty impressed with his decision-making with the puck. In addition to mitigating the Rangers forecheck a few times, he helped our defensemen avoid being crunched a few times.

The bigger concern is what was pointed about by Holtby himself and other posters like sgm3 - not controlling rebounds. In the long-term, I am not tremendously concerned with this because I think, like Varly, Holtby has demonstrated that he is extremely athletic and should be able to compensate most of the time until his approach adjusts to the NHL game. In the short-term, there certainly could be a few blips on the radar screen.

Posted by: Cherno | January 25, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

It was a good game. Sometimes you pull out the win in those close ones, sometimes you don't.

Posted by: j3rockstar | January 25, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Two other goaltending related comments:

1. Holtby was thrown off in the shootout by the speed of NHLers (as well as their ability to adjust speeds very quickly and in a sometimes deceptive manner). Again, I think this is something that will come with time and not something to freak out about in the interim.

2. I don't think we need a veteran goalie. We have two very good goalies that have been pretty consistent behind a very inconsistent team. I'm not completely sold on our defense-first approach. Despite the number of high quality chances that we continue to give up (think the Toronto game), we are not giving up a ton of goals. Goaltending is obviously a strength for us. If we are going to make a trade, there are much more pressing needs than a veteran goalie.

Posted by: Cherno | January 25, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Tired of the excuses about bad goals. Fact is, they were playing a team that humiliated them last time out by 7-0 and they should have been loaded for bear. They were playing against a team with seven minor leaguers due to injuries. They were playing against a back up goalie. They were playing at home. And they could only score one goal, which meant that the "bad goal" allowed the Rangers to tie the game. Another miserable effort in my judgment.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 25, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Once again I have to ask, why why why does everyone covering or cheering for this team refuse to acknowledge the obvious -- they don't have a goalie capable of winning. What a stupid headline, "Goalie Braden Holtby the victim of unlucky bounce" No he wasn't, he just sucks. A more appropriate headline would have been, "Caps Goaltending Woes Continue, Team Assured Of Another First Round Exit"

Posted by: pssummers70 | January 25, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

The PP seems hopeless right now. I think BB should start out the next PP with Alzner and Carlson at the points with Ovie, Beagle, and Hendricks down low.

Just to change things up. They would take shots from the point and look for deflections or rebounds. Also Beagle and Hendricks would be two good guys to win battles on the wall when the puck gets deep on the PP.

The Caps have to try to change up the point men, the current ones look horrible.

Then for the 2nd shift on the PP send out Green and either Schulz, Hannan or Erskine to play the point. Again, this would to be to just try something different. You might as well start trying out all the guys on the PP.

Also, can someone please put Laich's face on a milk carton. I haven't seen him in a while and am starting to get worried.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 25, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

For all of those talking about our record against playoff teams lets take a look at it.

Philly 1-0-2
Pitt 1-0-1
NYR 1-1-1
Bruins 1-3-0
Habs 1-0-0
TB 2-1-1
Atlanta2-3-0

So overall we are 9-8-5. Only Atlanta and Boston have us under .500 Also Atlanta is about to fall out of the playoffs for the Canes who the Caps are 4-0-0 against which switches it to 11-5-5.

If you include the West you have

Preds 1-0-0
Van 0-1-0
Avs 0-1-0
Dallas 0-1-0
Ducks 0-0-1

So in the West we are not that great but with only one game agianst teams in is hard to judge because most of those games came when we were playing our worst hockey in years.

What I do notice is our PP against some of the top teams.

Philly 5-13
Pitt 2-8
Tampa 3-10
Preds 2-5
Dallas 1-3
Total 13-37 35%

But then there are teams that just have us solved

NYR 1-10
Bruins 0-12
Habs 0-8
Atlanta 1-17
Canes 1-10
total 3-57 5.2%

What we have to do is take a look at what the second list of teams are doing differently from the first group and figure out how to beat that difference. Otherwise we are going to have to hope the first list guys don't figure out what the second list guys are doing.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 25, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The Rangers had 7 rookies and a back-up goaltender (Conf final goaltender for the Flyers in 2008 and the ONLY flyer to show up for the series against the Penguins in 2009). Well, we had 4 rookies playing out and our third string and 5th rookie in net. I'm honestly not making excuses but give up that argument already.

Gaborik didn't hit it with his right hand? C'mon, the puck hit his left hand, it went past him and hit Alzner, when it bounced back to him he attempted to control it with his right hand which is why he looked down but it glanced off his hand and went forward into the goal. If the smirk on his face on the bench that VS gave us a look at after it was called a good goal didn't tell you he got away with something you weren't being very observant. Again though. No excuses, the Capitals didn't have the killer instinct in the 3rd.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 25, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The two things that most concern me with the Caps is that they spend most of the game in their own zone and rarely get a strong cycle going, especially the top two lines. The other thing that concerns me is that the coach has often referred to his new system as boring as if he is not enthused about it. Shouldn't a coach endorse a system he expects his players to buy into like Tortorella or Lamire does? I really think the cancer in the room is a coach who feels forced to install a system he does not care for. BB is a player's coach who has lost his players. I wish the Caps had been able to pick up Lamire, Robinson, or Crawford, but we seem stuck with BigBaby until he crashes again in the first round.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 25, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Ovie should not play the point anymore during powerplays. The chances of him missing that pass and letting the puck exit the zone is about 99%. I think that's half the issue right there. Everytime you pass it back to him he loses it and then they have to reset all over again....which for whatever reason is taking them FOREVER to do this season.

Posted by: j3rockstar | January 25, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

pssummers70 -

Let's look at the last 5 Stanley Cup Winners:

Blackhawks - Niemi - Unproven Rookie Goaltender
Penguins - Fleury - Somewhat proven ~4th year Pro
Red Wings - Osgood - Always questioned by Detroit media and fans (Hasek, 6 time Vezina winner benched)
Anaheim - J.S. Giguere - former Conn Smythe winner (used Bryzagalov as well that year, unproven at the time)
Carolina - Cam Ward - rookie

As long as the players in the room trust the guy in net, it doesn't matter what fans or the media have to say. This past summer's goaltender free agent market explained one thing - GMs do not value veteran goaltenders anymore.

If you watched the game last night, you would know that goaltending did not let us down. A lack of shots let us down. We had some good pressure, but often passed up scoring opportunities for the perfect play. We also just had trouble finishing (Beagle specifically).

Posted by: Cherno | January 25, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Before suggesting that the Capitals put two 4th liners on the PP remember that when our 4th liners are on the ice even strength, they are rarely if ever playing the other teams top defensemen. On the PP they would be.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 25, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Icehammer, good work, I was shocked on that one...

Fanohock, but we have the 8 million dollar man....and another 6 million dollar man who had ZERO POINTS.

Carlson maybe a rook, but he is our #1 d-man now....and even though DJK has only played 15 minutes all year (he's not a rook)...

Lastly, we were at HOME...don't sit back with a 1 goal lead. GO FOR THE KILL!

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 25, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

pssummers70 Really 87 for his last 90 in saves and he sucks? Yes we were playing a team with 7 minor leaguers (actually it was 7 rookies some have been on the team all season) and a backup but we were going with 2 (Beagle and King, because that is what he is) and another 3 rookies (MP, MJ, Carlson) and our third string goalie. Also their 'backup' has the same save percentage as Sergei Bobrovsky who many are saying should have been in the all-star game and also has been the starting goalie on a Conference Final team. Biron is still a very good goalie it isn't like their backup is Peter Budaj or someone like that.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 25, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

@icehammer

I think since the end of November we have beaten 2 teams that are currently seeded 1-8 in the East and West...maybe its 4 teams, but it is a very small number. We aren't beating good teams when we win games right now.

Posted by: ThePat | January 25, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Before suggesting that the Capitals put two 4th liners on the PP remember that when our 4th liners are on the ice even strength, they are rarely if ever playing the other teams top defensemen. On the PP they would be.

Posted by: fanohock1

It's to just change things up. It isn't a long term solution, but the PP couldn't be playing any worse than it is now.

Maybe the other guys could generate a grinding goal, rebound goal or tip-in goal. Or at least get some offensive zone time. At this point it is worth a shot, IMO.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 25, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I love seeing the comments about "going for hill" and "not sitting back"... Why, so if/when there's a breakdown and an odd man rush for the tying goal you can come back and say they don't play properly to win in the playoffs?

The Caps are adjusting to playoff style hockey. Given their lack of success in the playoffs, is it really surprising that it's taking them a season to get it down?

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 25, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Icehammer, good work, I was shocked on that one...

Fanohock, but we have the 8 million dollar man....and another 6 million dollar man who had ZERO POINTS.

Carlson maybe a rook, but he is our #1 d-man now....and even though DJK has only played 15 minutes all year (he's not a rook)...

Lastly, we were at HOME...don't sit back with a 1 goal lead. GO FOR THE KILL!

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 25, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with your last sentence, they didn't have the killer instinct. Our 9+million vice 8 and and 6 mil guy didn't have any points, that's true. They had a lot of Swedish last night but absolutely not Finish. (Scandavian joke). Even with their unproductive season, in relative terms, they are 9th and 14th in scoring. Although they didn't pot any points last night they have been playing much much better of late. Again, although they didn't get any points last night I believe they are out of their slumps.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 25, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Here's an interesting article about how the game is starting to revert back to its pre-lockout style.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/darren_eliot/01/24/return.of.NHL.interference.obstruction/index.html?eref=sihp

Posted by: sgm3 | January 25, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

btw for any of you that care, are bored or like to have fantasies about adding certain players to the Caps. www.capgeek.com has their trade machine up and running. You can pick different days so you know exactly how much cap space on a daily basis as the deadline approaches.

Posted by: ThePat | January 25, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@ThePat yes since Novemeber we are 2-7-5 against the playoff teams but it is all about framing the time to the argument you want and that is what the negative people want to look at. For instance if we look at since the losing streak we are 2-2-3 against the playoff teams. If we switch Carolina (one point out two games in hand) and Atlanta it goes to 3-6-5 since November and 3-2-3 since the losing streak. It is also intersting that the many of the same people who are counting the losing streak in their stats this year were the ones taking out the winning streak last season.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 25, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

By the way two of the OTL in each of those segments I talked about were SOL which are nothing more then coin flips. If the record was 4-2-1 (record since the streak) or 5-6-3 (record since Nov with Atl/Car switch) or 5-2-1 (recocord since streak with switch) anyone would be as critical as they are now. Little things that don't apply in the playoffs like shootouts can make a big change to how the standings and records look in the regular season.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 25, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@icehammer

you can call it the negative people, but people that work for the Caps are the ones that have brought it up and pointed it out. So either some of us are negative(or we deal in REALITY) and some people are optimistic(spin the heck out of the numbers). Bottom line is when you have club officials brining up the stat, people aren't happy with the way they are playing.

Posted by: ThePat | January 25, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

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