Capitals head coach Barry Trotz addressed media Thursday afternoon ahead of their game against the Los Angeles Kings. Trotz confirmed that Philip Grubauer would be starting in net, while Braden Holtby will be given time to “reset.”
Holtby has been pulled in three of his last six games. His frustration peaked on Monday, after being pulled against the Ducks, when he needed a few moments to cool off before returning to the bench.
Trotz took the time to reaffirm that he had no doubt Holtby would return to the elite levels of goaltending we’ve come to expect, following a short break.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 8, 2018
“Every elite goaltender, they go through stretches. A couple of the big names have gone through that. It’s probably good for Holts,” Trotz said. “It’s another thing that he has to work through. As an elite goaltender, it goes pretty good for you sometimes, and when it doesn’t, you try to find the answers. Once you go through that, if it happens later in your career, you can correct it. Guys like Hank (Henrik Lundqvist), Carey [Price], and Tuukka [Rask], they reset and then they’re outstanding.”
“Grubi’s been going good so we’re going to go with Grubi here,” Trotz added. “We’ll take it one game at a time. We’ll get a reset and a lot of individual time with Braden and I think he’ll be elite again as he always is. He hasn’t lost anything, just had a tough stretch here.”
Former Caps goaltending coach Mitch Korn has returned to the team and has been working with Holtby one-on-one.
Earlier in the day, former NHL goaltender Brent Johnson shared his unique perspective on Holtby’s struggles.
“One thing I’ve been saying for some time now is that in today’s game, with the incredible speed, pace and chaos, starting goalies get more fatigued than ever before,” Johnson tweeted. “The constant pressure of having to be fully prepared night-in and night-out, has a wearing effect on ones body and mind.”
Trotz wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know. I think we’ve managed the days off quite well,” Trotz said. “I don’t think that would be an issue, but you don’t know. He practices really hard. He’s always been a guy that loses a lot of body weight in sweat. He’s one of those guys. It may be a factor, but I don’t think it’s a big factor.
After having a private conversation with Holtby, Trotz believed that the Vezina Trophy-winner’s expectations were weighing on him and affecting his confidence.
“There’s certain expectations you put on yourself and others around you and when it’s not going well, it feels worse than it is,” Trotz said. “It’s just getting back to those foundations. I look at Braden, he’s still a very athletic goaltender. He still moves tremendously well. He’s always been a guy that comes up with those big saves, is tight, and moves. He still has all of that. Just right now he’s a little bit off of the foundation.”
Trotz also saw hidden benefits of Grubauer, the team’s backup goaltender, receiving a stretch of games.
“[Braden] has played a tremendous amount of games for us over the last three years-plus,” Trotz said. “A little break might actually play in our favor down the road.”
Headline photo: @Capitals
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