On Saturday night in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Philipp Grubauer led to Washington Capitals on to the ice. With the Caps down 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Braden Holtby, last year’s Vezina Trophy winner and a finalist once again in 2017, sat on the bench, his face partially obscured by a baseball hat pulled down on his head. Holtby had allowed three goals on just 14 shots.
“The playoffs are made of big moments,” a dejected Holtby said after the game. “That third goal – that’s a big moment. That’s where your goalie needs to come up with a save and I just didn’t. Obviously, I was frustrated that I didn’t do that.”
Holtby’s play in this year’s playoffs has been abnormal for the 27-year-old netminder (4-4, 2.62 goals-against average, .911 save percentage). After being yanked in Game Two, Holtby’s starting spot seemed up in the air, with both the goalie and head coach Barry Trotz telling the media they were unsure if he would start. But on a conference call with reporters on Sunday afternoon, Trotz changed his tune, putting to rest any idea that Holtby would ride the pine as the series shifts to Pittsburgh.
“Yes, absolutely,” the coach said when asked whether Holtby would continue to start. “Why would you think otherwise?”
“No question he’s our goaltender,” Trotz continued, raising his voice. “I have a lot of confidence in him. He probably hasn’t had his series to this point, but I do know this, as I said, his body of work has been excellent, his mental toughness is excellent. I think he has the ability to park things. He’ll park it and he’ll be the difference in this series.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 30, 2017
Headline photo: Rob Carr
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