Caps Waste Holtby’s Strong 60 Minutes

April 12, 2012 | Ed Frankovic

Washington Capitals rookie goaltender Braden Holtby did everything right for 60 minutes in his NHL playoff debut. He played outstanding in the game’s first five minutes when the Boston Bruins were all over the Caps and he was the team’s best penalty killer during a six minute stretch of B’s power play time that started late in the opening frame and carried into period two. He stopped all 29 shots he faced in regulation and his puck moving ability helped his defense out all night.

Unfortunately for #70, overtime was not kind to him and Chris Kelly scored the game winning goal, and only tally for either club in this one, for the Bruins just 1:18 into the extra frame. It was a shot Holtby will likley want back, although it seemed that an out of position Dennis Wideman may have altered the shot’s trajectory with his stick. However, if not for Holtby this game isn’t tied going into the final frame.

There are lots of players to finger for the lack of scoring, but you have to start at the top. Alexander Ovechkin had seven hits, but when the Gr8 only gets one shot on net, the Capitals are simply not going to win very often. Ovechkin has to be better at getting pucks to the net. Shortly before Kelly scored the winner, Ovie had a chance coming down the left wing but instead of powerfully going to the cage and perhaps jamming one home he tried a fancy, through the legs type of move that led to a turnover. You are not going to win in the post season trying Harlem Globetrotters style plays and the Gr8 needs to realize that or this series will end quick, like many have predicted.

On the positive side of things, the Caps penalty killing was very good (Boston was 0 for 4) and the third period might be something Washington can build off of. The Capitals dominated that frame, had some traffic in front of Tim Thomas (17 saves), but didn’t have the hands around the cage to put a rebound by him. It was a super 20 minutes and the Caps did a lot of nice things.

At the end of the night, though, the Capitals needed more of the way they played in period three. Instead, they took some bad penalties, most notably Jay Beagle’s unnecessary four minute high sticking penalty (#83 hit David Krejci in the face), and when that happens your skill players have to sit while the grinders are forced to kill off the infraction. That leads to a lack of flow and Boston carried the play in period two as a result.

Overall Holtby did what his club asked him to do but the Capitals wasted a great goaltending effort. It was a performance in net that the Caps needed to capitalize on and they failed. Bottom line, when you get an effort like that in the cage, a team needs to find a way to steal a win. It will be interesting to see if #70 builds off of this or if he has a let down after such a fine outing.

So now Washington has the task of trying to win game two on Saturday in Beantown at 3pm (NBC). It isn’t a must win game, but a 2-0 hole against the defending champions would be difficult to climb out of, that is for sure. Ovechkin and company need to bring it on Saturday, employing the things that they did correctly in period three of game one, because if they don’t, and play more like the middle frame, this series will end rather quickly.

Notes:  Joel Ward was a presence in his limited time (9:21) and he actually had two shots on goal. #42 was a force on the boards and if he continues to play that way he’ll see more ice time…another place to put blame rests with the Caps power play. It managed just two shots in four minutes of advantage time. Washington had trouble getting in the zone and setting up. If they can get some goals on the power play then they have a good chance of winning the games and the series. The way it performed tonight, it is hard to expect that, though…the Caps won 32 of 65 draws (49%).

4 Comments For This Post

  1. eric s Says:

    come on ,everybody is acting like holtby stood on his head,he made 29 saves and i’d say 2 were above average.he did his job but he wasnt magical out there.the centers(backstrom and laich) were weak again tonight and couldnt get the puck to the skill players like ovie,semin,and chimera.the caps arent going to beat teams playing low scoring games,they need to open things up and go for i;ve said all season,why not put ovie or semin out there on the pk and maybe get a shorthanded goal once in a while.they use mojo on the pk and that guy isnt a stud on D.again dennis wideman is terrible,he should have been in position on that last shot and he shouldnt have stuck is stick out there,and you’re right,i think he deflected it or holtby would have it.hunter played not to lose and you know what happens when you do that,you game the dmen need to pinch a but more and not let boston get out of the zone so easily.put aucoin with semin,i’ll bet they score a few goals.

  2. richard Says:

    Hi Ed,
    Sorry that’s it been so long.There has not been much to say about the Bears this year. With everyone healthy and available, they could be one of the 3 top teams in the league. From Aucoin’s call-up(what a great story),they have been damaged goods and quite frankly for the last 3 weeks,probably not much better than an ECHL team. I call them the Hershey College Stars(5 ato’s in line-up). If they get healthy and the Caps are eliminated quickly,who knows what will happen. Saturday,10 players from their clear day roster were either hurt or on recall.
    Last nite,Cap Fans were “HOLTIBIFIED.” It is what Bear fans have become accustomed to seeing. He was feisty,brilliant, and then whiff–a softie. It’s something,fans must become used to, with Braydon. He does give it his all though.
    One last thing.Have you read about the Norfolk Admirals? They have won 25 consecutive games,not having lost since Feb 6th.It is the 2nd longest streakin any sport at any level in the USA. The saddest part(or most remarkable) is they actually got stronger when TBay got eliminated.
    Talk soon,

    (Note from Ed: Good to hear from you Richard! I have been following Hershey and as you say, many of their main guys are up with the Caps. Unbelievable story about Norfolk. It will be interesting to see if they keep it up.)

  3. eric s Says:

    stoner,you are right,we should all bow down to holtby for doing his job.all hail king holtby,lets hope he can do it for another 20 or so games.

  4. richard Says:

    Really thought that the puck should have been stopped.As Ed put it,he would definitely like to have it back. If I saw it wrong,I stand corrected. However,I think most NHL goalies would stop that shot.

    (Note from Ed: Apparently Chris Kelly said the shot was altered so Holtby is absolved of a lot of blame. Braden was slightly too far to his right but Wideman got his stick in there trying to make up for his own poor positioning and made things worse. Still, the blame for the loss is on the offense.)

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