Braden Holtby was one of the Capitals representatives on the NHL Media Tour yesterday. One of the Holtbeast’s stops was with the NHL Network to talk about the upcoming Capitals season.
Joining Jamison Coyle, E.J. Hradek, and Bill Lindsay on NHL Tonight, Holtby spoke about the Capitals’ continued struggles in the playoffs.
“Right now it’s just building out game, building the way we can feel comfortable in the uncomfortable situations. Really focus on that throughout the year,” Holtby said. “To make sure that when it comes down to it, we aren’t having a game like we did in Game Seven of last year against the Penguins.”
Holtby also preached that the team needs to be focused when they first play the Vegas Golden Knights on December 23.
“I think the biggest thing leading up to that is not taking them as an expansion team because they have some serious players and they are going to be a hard team to play against,” Holtby mentioned, likely referencing former teammate Nate Schmidt. “I think the building is going to have a lot of energy, especially in the first year, so it will be fun, it will be a fun challenge. I think we are all excited to play there for the first game.”
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) September 7, 2017
You played the most games in the NHL, faced the most shots in the NHL over the last three years. How much has your training regime changed over the course since you entered the National Hockey League?
Braden Holtby: “It’s changed a bit, obviously. Every year you’re supposed to get smarter anyways. You just get to know your body, get to know the season a little better. When the hard parts are, when the schedule ramps up and try to adjust accordingly. You try to take care of yourself and battle through whatever you have to.”
You guys won the Presidents Trophy the last two years. You lose a couple of key pieces but, for the most part, that core, the same names still in tack. What excites you the most part of the upcoming season with some of those names and some of those pieces still in place.
Braden Holtby: “That is the nice part. We still have a pretty good core together. Obviously it’s tough losing big pieces of your team but I am excited because there will be a few roster spots up for grabs during camp which should ramp the intensity up a little bit, a little more than we have had the last couple years based on roster spots. It’ll be fun to get it going and have a high intensity camp, a good exhibition games, and get the ball rolling right from the start.”
You have some changes to that D core that is right in front of you. Karl Alzner is gone. Nate Schmidt is gone. Kevin Shattenkirk, he was only there for a short time, but he is gone as well. Who has to step up in your mind to help keep this team where they are particularly in front of you in the defensive zone?
Braden Holtby: “Obviously it’s going to be different. It is losing a lot of guys in one year, but we have some really good players that were in Hershey last year coming up to play big roles, but ultimately it falls on the five guys that are still there from last year, myself included, to really step up our games and bring our games to the next level. It’ll be great. Taylor Chorney will get a bigger role. [He’s a] guy that can really bring a lot to our team and based on players the last couple years, hasn’t gotten a full-time gig. Things like that are really encouraging to guys. They are going to bring their games to the next level.”
Braden, you talk about taking it to the next level. How does this Washington team do that in the playoffs and get the ultimate goal: The Stanley Cup?
Braden Holtby: “If we knew the secret, we wouldn’t be talking about this. Right now it’s just building our game, building the way we can feel comfortable in the uncomfortable situations. Really focus on that throughout the year. To make sure that when it comes down to it, we aren’t having a game like we did in Game Seven of last year against the Penguins. Where we we’re getting up for them and using our experiences from these past couple years and playoffs. We know we are close and we can’t take our foot off because we really believe we can do that if we make small adjustments and gain that confidence in the big games and really believe in our team.”
I don’t have your schedule in front of me, maybe you know it off the top of your head or maybe it’s circled somewhere in big red circles in the dressing room right now, but when you guys go out to Vegas to play the Golden Knights, what is that going to be like? The first professional sports franchise in Las Vegas, playing that new team in the new arena. What is that going to be like for you guys?
Braden Holtby: “It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a unique experience, obviously. I think we might have a bit of an advantage over other teams because we get in late the night before for a back-to-back, I think it’s an afternoon game. So, there is not too much time to fool around in Vegas at the tables or anything, so I think we will be focused and ready to play. I think the biggest thing leading up to that is not taking them as an expansion team because they have some serious players and they are going to be a hard team to play against. I think the building is going to have a lot of energy, especially in the first year, so it will be a fun challenge. I think we are all excited to play there for the first game.”
Speaking of the schedule, you get another crack at an outdoor game. You guys will have a meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs this year. What is it like to play outdoors? Is that something that gives you something to look forward to or change the script a little bit during the regular season?
Braden Holtby: “It kind of shakes things up a little bit. With that, there also comes a lot of distractions you need to zone out. In the end you are still playing for the same two points and you want to put your best game out there, so your conditions, I am sure you have family and friends in town, so you have to block that all out and play. I think it comes at a good time because it will be good practice for us come playoffs in blocking all that stuff out – to just play the game regardless of circumstances.”
Headline photo: Patrick Smith
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