After sitting out the last four games, Braden Holtby will start tonight against the New York Islanders. In the midst of his worst full season as a starter, Holtby has been pulled in three of the last six games and is posting career worst numbers in save percentage and goals against average.
Over the last week, Holtby has, in the words of Barry Trotz, “reset,” working individually with director of goaltending Mitch Korn and Capitals goaltending coach Scott Murray.
“It was obviously good to clear my mind and step back,” Holtby said Friday to reporters. “It makes it a lot better when we had success while [my reset] was going on. It makes it easier to focus on regrouping and working on a few things. Couple of days in practice, you’re not worried about conserving energy. You can really just work through things. It’s something I haven’t had in quite a few years. There was a positive in it for sure, mentally and physically, to just regroup a bit.”
The full transcription follows below.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 16, 2018
On being good in bounce back performances and whether he’ll be able to after a long break.
Braden Holtby: “I think tonight is more just the moment at hand. Don’t worry about the past or future. It’s just about getting back to being comfortable out there. You’re out there to compete, and compete for your team, and that’s it. You leave all the outside noise outside, and that’s the mentality we can take here in this little stretch before playoffs. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be a challenge, and exciting to ramp things up.”
Was it all about studying what went wrong or stepping back from it and starting fresh.
Braden Holtby: “Technically, there wasn’t a whole bunch that I think we looked at that we were concerned with. I think it was more just the mental side of things. Trying to be too perfect. Trying to play outside my means. That’s something that never really goes well. Just the adjustment from the start of the season until now, I think I was just putting too much pressure on myself and that usually wears on you and exhausts you in the end. I think that’s a good lesson to learn to us all. No matter how old or experienced you get, you’re always learning new lessons. That’s the exciting part about this game and I’m just excited to get back on the ice.”
Was he more down on himself post-Anaheim?
Braden Holtby: “I don’t think so. It was one of those games that just felt like everything was out of sorts. Usually in that situation, you give a couple of goals in the first which there’s not much you can really do on. But then I didn’t regroup and stay committed to the end goal and let in a goal that I shouldn’t have. That was just a bit of that mental aspect of the game, whatever it was. It was just needed to regroup and I think Grubi obviously earned every bit he’s going to get. He’s been outstanding for us. I think this little stretch here he’s held our team together and got us some key wins. So that takes a lot of pressure off the rest of us and I can just focus on tonight’s game and play and go forward from there. Wherever it takes us.”
On whether he’s looking at how many games are left heading into the playoffs.
Braden Holtby: “That’s the exact opposite of what we were trying to get rid of. Just the last couple of days I feel more of myself than what I’ve been in the past and even the very start of the year. Again, if you wear yourself in the ground a bit, worrying about things that you shouldn’t be worrying about, it never seems to lead to success. Obviously if I could go back I would change a few things, but you learn a lesson and become stronger. It’s not saying that it’s going to cure everything and be a magic solution, but I think myself, the group, we’re in the right mindset moving forward into the playoffs.”
On goalie fatigue and whether he believes in it.
Braden Holtby: “Definitely not physically. Physically I actually probably feel way better this year than last. If you’re fatigued physically then that’s on you, that’s not on anything else. But mentally it does catch up. I think that might just add a light to your fire that you have, that sometimes you take things for granted and you go through the motions a bit. Which you never want to do, because we’re in a pretty lucky situation playing in the NHL. But human nature kind of takes over sometimes and you just have to reset and look at what you’re doing, what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to do it. That’s what we’ve taken the last few days to focus on the positives and chance we have here to do something special.”
Transcription by Donya Abramo.
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