Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Braden Holtby helps Caps eke out a win

After an inauspicious start to their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in in the SE division, the Caps won a shootout match on a beauty of a goal by Alex Ovechkin and a stand on his head performance from goalie Braden Holtby.  Holtby entered the game cold after Michal Neuvirth didn't come back in the 2nd period because a piece of metal went into his eye after the puck hit his mask on a Tampa shot early in the first period.  That's frightening to me and I can't believe he continued playing after the shot.  I'm glad he's okay.

The Caps would have lost the game in regulation if not for the heroics of Alexander Semin and his timely goal 14:28 in the third period to tie the game.  Semin's play on both ends of the ice during the last couple of games has been impressive.  He has the talent to be one of the sickest players in the NHL when he's on, but, unfortunately, Semin being "on" ebbs and flows throughout every season he's played.  I have no doubt having Jason Arnott playing center with him helps Semin as his centers have constantly changed during the Caps quest to find a true second line center.  Here's to hoping we see the back checking, goal scoring Semin in the playoffs.

There is slight optimism rising among Caps fans this morning about this team.  Although the dreadful power play must be fixed in this last month before the playoffs and the Caps need to score more goals and score in the first period, they are winning close games and staying defensively responsible.  The Caps have won five one goal games in a row after getting pasted by the New York Rangers, 6-0.  Still, I won't be optimistic about this team making a long playoff run until they show me they can actually win a playoff series.

Before closing, I want to talk more about the young net minder and first star on yesterday, Braden Holtby.  His last appearance in a Caps game came against the New York Rangers on January 24th and that game also ended in a shootout.  Holtby tanked badly in that shootout.  He overplayed every shot and was too jittery, which is not unexpected from a goalie that has only played a handful of games in the show.   Holtby dedicated himself to working on shootouts and breakaway when he went back to Hershey and it paid off.  I think that's awesome.

However, the real reason I love Braden Holtby is he's a typical quirky NHL goalie.  A lot of goalies are quirky or temperamental and it's just another reason I love the game.  Caps fans started hearing about his "holtbyisms" from those that get to watch him in Hershey. I enjoyed watching the Holtby shuffle and water bottle squirt routines the first time I saw him live.

Holtby's in net again tonight versus the Edmonton Oilers.  Michal Neuvirth is backing him up so I'm assuming his eye is okay.

This is a game this team should win even without Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, but that doesn't mean a thing.

Let's go Caps!


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