Braden Holtby gave a special shoutout to our dearly departed nephew, Andre Burakovsky – now of the Colorado Avalanche.
When asked which Capital player used to fire shots at his head during practice during an NHL interview, Holtby harkened back to the Burakovsky Era in DC.
“To be honest, our team this year was really really good that way,” Holtby said. “But a guy in the past [was] Andre Burakovsky. He’d go by my ears with every single shot and laugh at it.
Holtby added, “We had a great relationship. Everyone knows that that’s been on our team.”
Burakovsky was beloved by his teammates during his time in DC. And a big part of why was his playfulness and trollishness.
The Swedish forward had a pretty hands-on relationship with captain Alex Ovechkin which included getting bit by him pregame for good luck. The two once cuddled during a polar vortex and exchanged aggressive back rubs at a charity event.
Holtby answered many other pertinent questions during his 30-minute chat with the NHL. A transcript follows.
Is TJ Oshie lethal on breakaways during practice or does he save his good moves for the games?
Braden Holtby: “He just loves breakaways. He just loves fooling around. He’s like a little kid that way. I think you guys all agree, anyone who goes in the shootout comes the same way and has three or four moves off the same look. It makes it extremely difficult. He’s really good in that way. A lot of players figure that out. It’s getting more difficult that way.”
Hardest shot to read by a player who’s not your teammate?
Braden Holtby: “I’d have to go with Kucherov’s actually. He got a lot of different ways he can shoot it. He’s smaller. You don’t expect a guy like that to shoot that hard.”
Holtby on what he’s up to during the quarantine.
Braden Holtby: “I’m still in Virginia/DC area with my family here. We haven’t gone anywhere. We don’t have to much exciting to report.
“We’ve got a nice backyard here and a pool. It’s the kids that keep me busy no matter what we’re doing. Trying to figure out the teaching thing is definitely keeping me busy.”
How old are his kids?
Braden Holtby: “Almost 8 and 6. We have a birthday in a week here.”
How do you practice as a goalie?
Braden Holtby: “I’m not doing much right now, to be honest. In the summer, I take a few months off completely anyways to get my mind completely away from everything. It’s going to be tough when there’s kind of a game plan in play where we have a bit of time when we know we’re going to come back to see enough shots or see enough of anything. They’re talking about three or four people per ice session. We’re all going to be in the same position so I think everyone will make the most of it and try to find a way to do the best they can.”
Did you always know you wanted to be a goalie?
Braden Holtby: “I’m kind of the opposite of Matt (Murray). My dad was a goalie so I wanted to be like him, but I wasn’t very good at it. I was much better playing as a forward. I always wanted to be a goalie like dad. I’m pretty fortunate. I grew up in a tiny, small town so a couple years above me didn’t have a goalie so I got to be a goalie for them and a skater for my age group. I got to do both until pee wee or something. From when I can remember, three or four years old, I was obsessed with goaltending. And I think because my dad did it, big influence that way. So not much more to it than that.
“Patrick Roy was my guy.”
How do you deal with not knowing what’s going to happen to start a game?
Braden Holtby: “I think you just want to get something right away. The worst is when you go five to 10 minutes without anything to start a game. That’s when it gets real tough. Right at the start of the game, you’re already amped up. Obviously, a big scoring chance, if it goes the wrong way can kind of mess with you. For me, if there’s no action, that’s the toughest.”
How important is it now that you’re a veteran guy to make younger guys comfortable and mentor them? And how do you still compete with those guys?
Braden Holtby: “I think we’re all extremely competitive but when you break down and become a little more aware of what it takes to be successful as a goalie, the less competition with the other goalie there is. Because really, out of the whole team, that’s the guy you’re competing against the least. It’s obviously fun when you get in goaltending battles and making big saves. You want to do the same. We all realize how difficult it is. The goaltending every year gets thrown new challenges at you so I think you have that appreciation of what other guys are going through too. You share the same love and we’re all professional. We’re all regular guys. I feel kind of old now to be honest so any young guys, I’m excited to have that energy and it’s fun to talk about it.”
Who blocks or deflects the most shots on your team?
Braden Holtby: “There’s a few. It’s pretty underrated. It takes one thing just to have the guts to do it. But it’s also a skill to able to do it without creating more havoc than you’re helping. I’d have to say, heart and soul guy, TJ Oshie. He doesn’t care where he gets hit or anything as long as he’s helping the team he’s all for it. He’s that way. I’ll still have to stick with Nick Backstrom just because he does everything so well. He just thinks really well. Positioning and getting sticks on pucks. Angling people so they don’t even have a shot. He’s extremely good at that.”
What first pops into your mind when you think of your Stanley Cup win?
Braden Holtby: “For me, it has to be seeing my family after… I was lucky to have my parents there. My sister. Obviously, my wife and kids. That was pretty cool.”
Do you have something you want to say to fans?
Braden Holtby: “We’ll be back as soon as we can, We’re just as excited as everyone else (to get back). We miss it just like everyone else. Important thing is that everyone stays safe right now so we can get back as quick as we can.”
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen/RMNB
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