Is Braden Holtby as good as he was last year?
His father once told him, "Never have back-to-back bad games."
Braden Holtby, the reigning Vezina trophy winner, was shelled 5 times against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though the Caps ended up winning the game 6-5 in OT off of an Alex Ovechkin tally, Holtby was yanked for the first time this season. The message was clear, he simply did not play well and he did not give his team a chance.
So how would Holtby respond? By shutting out the best team in the league and ruining their chance at breaking a 20+ year old record. And if that wasn't enough, Holtby shut out the Senators the following game. For the first time in his career, Holtby claimed back-to-back shut outs to raise his total to league leading 5 this year, tied with Tuuka Rask and Devan Dubnyk.
The effort earned him the leagues third star last week.
While I'm watching Holtby defend againstthe Canadiens tonight, I'm thinking about the topic on Caps Live before the game: Is Braden Holtby better this year than last year?
Comparing his stats at the same stage of the season this year and last:
24-4-2 1.93 GAA .932 SP 2 SO
18-8-4 1.93 GAA .931 SP 5 SO
Holtby's numbers are almost identical, if not better. His wins vs losses is indicative of the way the team has been playing this season, and lately the Caps have been clicking. Holtby has been solid thus far and could just be hitting his stride in time for the team to go on a long steak of their own.
In the last 11 games, Holtby has 4 shut outs and the Caps are currently looking for their 6th straight win.
Holtby was drafted 93rd overall in the 2008 draft, and was the 10th goalie taken that year. The other 9 goalies have a total of 145 wins and 12 shutouts. Braden Holtby has 167 wins and 28 career shut outs.
He has 153 wins and 25 shut outs in the last 5 NHL seasons which leads all goaltenders.
The impact that Holtby has had on the Capitals is comparable to what Ovechkin has done. He gives the team a chance to win every-single-night and his consistency is staggering. The Caps haven't had a presence like him since Olaf Kolzig was between the pipes during the Caps woeful years after their lone Stanley Cup appearance in 1998.
Holtby will compete for the Vezina this season and could very well bring the hardware back to DC once more. The Caps may not go on a 10-15 game winning steak, but their consistency, backed by Holtby's dominant play, will help the netminder pad his stats and keep his team a contender.
More to come...