At mid-season, Braden Holtby was near the top of almost every important goaltending statistic in the NHL. He was also starting nearly every game for the Washington Capitals.
NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire asked the Holtbeast in January about his heavy workload after a nationally televised game (which he won). Holtby’s response:
Pierre McGuire asks Braden Holtby post-game if he's tired: "No. That's what the offseason is for."
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 15, 2015
Since then, Holtby has played even more. He’s got a 41-19-10 record, nine shutouts, a 2.21 GAA and .923 save percentage. He’s set a franchise-record 24 consecutive games and faced over 2000 shots. If Holtby plays Saturday against the Rangers, he’ll match Olie Kolzig‘s franchise record for most appearances in a single season (73). If that happens, Holtby, according to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley, would become the 21st goalie in NHL history to play in 73 or more games in a single season.
So, the question is this: Should the Caps rest Holtby on Saturday?
The Capitals have a playoff spot guaranteed. They’re just playing for home-ice advantage at this point, which they could secure with a single standings point against the Rangers. And besides, home-ice advantage isn’t exactly as crucial as it is in other sports.
Lately, Holtby’s had his fair share of bumps and bruises. For example: this physics-defying, mid-air collision with Tim Gleason last week.
…And some of those violent splits we’ve been seeing:
“If you ask Braden, he doesn’t like days off,” Caps head coach Barry Trotz said to Chuck Gormley. “When I give days off he sort of gives me a look like, again? He likes the rhythm and that’s why we play him.”
There might be something to that.
In February, our very own Pat Holden asked, Is Braden Holtby’s Workload a Problem?
Since 2005-06, a goalie has appeared in 70-plus games in a season 30 times. Of those 30 times, that goalie’s respective team made the playoffs 18 times.
Those 18 goalies saw their 5v5 save percentage improve in the playoffs.
Holtby, who is due a massive raise as a restricted free agent this summer, also has one other thing going for him.
He’s the best we have– in any situation.
So yeah, put that crazy Canadian in on Saturday. He should play, and he wants to play. It’s not like it will make him any more weird.
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