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Holtby, Neuvirth each to start a game this weekend for Caps

By Katie Carrera

Braden Holtby has never had a stretch quite like the past few weeks since he was recalled by the Capitals on Oct. 25. Over those 24 days, the 21-year-old netminder has started two games and appeared in a third, which is the longest he can recall having not played on a regular basis.

"It's been weird," Holtby said. "I don't know if you ever get used to it; it's not something I ever want to get used to by any means, but when you're asked to play you're asked to play well and that's what I'm looking to do.

"It's kind of part of the job," he said. "I sat on the bench two games straight in [the ECHL's] South Carolina at the start of last year and a year later I'm here. Goaltending's kind of a weird situation like that and you can't think about it too much."

Holtby understands that his role in Washington right now is as a backup to Michal Neuvirth, and Coach Bruce Boudreau said he plans on getting both goaltenders a start in back-to back games this weekend. Boudreau wouldn't divulge who will play where, and a case could be made for either player to start Friday's tilt in Atlanta or Saturday's against the Flyers at home.

Whichever contest, it will mark Holtby's fourth appearance in a game for the Capitals. Despite the light workload he's seen, the team believes that Holtby is gaining valuable experience with NHL teammates around him as Semyon Varlamov works with the Bears to recover from the latest set back with his groin injury.

"We've talked to goalie coaches in what would be best for his development and they all think this is it," Boudreau said when asked if there was concerned in the lack of play for Holtby. "When he does get in, he's gaining more confidence every day. I would think if things happen and Varly and him make a switch at some point, [Holtby] would feel very good about his chances of becoming an NHL goaltender."

Boudreau also pointed out that with the time in Washington, Holtby can receive individual instruction from goaltending coach Arturs Irbe on a daily basis, something that isn't available in Hershey.

"Last year was a weird year for me because I didn't really have a goalie coach too much," said Holtby, who played 12 games with the Stingrays and 40 total games with Hershey last year. "Archie had his hands full here with a lot of injuries and Neuvy being the new guy up here last year. So it was a learning experience for me last year, but there's nothing better than having a goalie coach there, because someone's got to make sure that the forwards aren't fooling around much."

More news and notes from this morning's optional practice coming up.

By Katie Carrera  | November 18, 2010; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth  
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Next: Tom Poti says there's no timeline for his return

Comments

Why doesn't Hershey or SC have a goalie coach? Don't you want your guys in the minors to have all the developmental tools possible?

Posted by: mjwies11 | November 18, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

They have an online goalie coach based in India.

Posted by: rjma1 | November 18, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

They have an online goalie coach based in India.

Posted by: rjma1 | November 18, 2010 1:41 PM

and when he answers the phone - i believe he goes by the name of 'peggy'

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 18, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I take it from that question you have never worked for any minor league sports team. Those teams do not make much money at all and their staffs are much smaller with many people doing the jobs done by many in the major leagues. Simply put teams cannot afford to hire a coach just for goalies just as they cannot afford having their GM only worry about the on ice product. Most minor league GMs are actually more concerned with ticket sales then they are with putting a team together.

Posted by: icehammer97 | November 18, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

Erskine didn't get much of a chance to show his heart last night, but his hits per minutes played was best on the D...I guess the difference between us is this: you think emotion, passion, intensity only exists between traditional rivals or in playoff series. I don't think you watch enough NHL hockey, or maybe you only watch Caps games. I think the emotions, passions, and intensity in regular season games is indicative of the teams heart and compete level. Whereas I think the emotions should be present at all times in the NHL, I guess you think it's a switch that we can turn on whenever we need to.

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 18, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

You couldn't be more wrong. I watch a LOT of NHL hockey. If you ask my wife she would say without a doubt TOO MUCH hockey. Not only do I watch every Caps game, at Verizon during most home games as a season ticket holder, and NEVER miss a road game. I DVR every Caps game and watch it even if I know the score if I was out of town on business. There are many many many games every night in the NHL that lack emotion. Sorry vermont every team cannot turn it on every night, impossible. Once this portion of the season is reached the excitement of the start of the season is gone, and unless a flagrant incident happens, or rivals are playing you will witness many games that lack what you call emotion.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 18, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I hope Holtby gets the start against Atlanta. Philly might be too big a step for our young goalie...although he is very agressive about defending his crease, which is something a goalie needs against those bullies.

Posted by: capscoach | November 18, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

capscoach: He got the start and won when the Caps played Philly back on the 7th of November. I thought the same thing you just did before the last Philly game but he proved he was up to the task. Looked a little shakey on Zherdev's goal but looked good the rest of the way.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 18, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I just think with a goalie so new to the NHL it would be good to try to keep his confidence up and not put him in too hard a situation so early...I bet even Tim Thomas gets a little nervous before playing a team like Philly.

Posted by: capscoach | November 18, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach,

He already beat Philly in his first start!

Posted by: PhilR | November 18, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

Dont forget, as we have mentioned on here all year...Holtby is our grittiest goalie we got. It is only fitting that he plays against Philthy. He probably feels right at home with all the gritty ambiance. =)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

Tim Thomas is crazy. I doubt he is nervous playing any team. Didn't Timmy T get into a fight with a Flyers player in last year's Winter Classic?

Posted by: ablake70 | November 18, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

TT is absolutely out of his mind - there's a story about when he got cut from one of the USA teams, and just completely going to town with his goalie stick in the locker room on all the equipment and nearly decapitating a couple would-be teammates in the process.

Good goalie [clearly] but he's nuts, and I wouldn't think the best influence on a youngster. After the way Rask carried them last spring [well, until Krecji went down anyway] and with their cap trouble I really thought Chiarelli would try harder to move TT; I guess not though.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 18, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

BB had better start playing Holtby regularly. I don't know how much I'd county on having Varly for an extended period. And I'd rather enter the playoffs with two regular-season-tested goalies.

Posted by: tfirey | November 18, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

BB had better start playing Holtby regularly. I don't know how much I'd count on having Varly for an extended period. And I'd rather enter the playoffs with two regular-season-tested goalies.

Posted by: tfirey | November 18, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The only way Hershey gets a full-time goalie coach is the Caps pay a "consultant" to go there and work with Holtby.
I understand Erskine is somebody the fans love. I like him as a gritty 7th D-man that levels big hits. However, he is too slow and will get exposed in the playoffs. The Caps will pick up another D-man for the playoff push. Erskine will watch most of the playoffs from the pressbox and Sloan will watch them in Hershey.

Posted by: chriscaps | November 18, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

BB had better start playing Holtby regularly. I don't know how much I'd count on having Varlamov for an extended period. I'd rather enter the playoffs with both Neuvirth and Holtby having plenty of regular-season tests. (Besides, I want to see Holtby throw a forearm shiv at Sean Avery.)

Posted by: tfirey | November 18, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the triple-post, folks. The comment interface and I just don't work well together...

Posted by: tfirey | November 18, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Tim Thomas is an excellent goalie. He is also 36 with a 3 year contract. He can't be assigned or traded without his permission. Here is a clip from GMGM and Chiarelli's last phone call:
GMGM: "Hello Pete, how are you?"
Chiarelli: "Tim Thomas"
GMGM: "No, it's George."
Chiarelli: "Tim Thomas?"
GMGM: "It's George McPhee from the Caps."
Chiarelli: "Hi George, yes Tim Thomas is available.
GMGM: "No thank you, I was wondering about (insert your best guess)?"
Chiarelli: "Yes, he is available in a package with Tim Thomas."
GMGM: dial-tone.

Posted by: chriscaps | November 18, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

fanohock1

It sounds like we're in the same boat home-wise, I respect your passion and knowledge of the game. Because I have a dear friend who's a HUGE Flyers fan, I guess I always measure us against them and it invariably boils down to old-school hockey. They have Pronger, we thank the heavens for Shultz and Alzner; Erskine is our d-man always on the bubble because he's slow, yet O'Donnell has no issues w/playing time; Shelly plays everynight, yet DJK has played 6 games?, and when the Flyers are flat, Carcillo knows how to spark them and we NEVER initiate a fight for a fights sake. I agree w/you that no team can endure such intensity on a nightly basis, I just don't think we do it enough

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 18, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Braden tomorrow; Neuvy Saturday

Posted by: rachel216 | November 18, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

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