Photo credit: Greg Fiume
I was in attendance the other night when Braden Holtby made NHL history. You see, the Washington Capitals are now the the only team to have three goalies — all 22-years old or younger — to pitch a shutout in the same season. It was electric. The Phone Booth was chanting “Holt-by! Holt-by! Holt-by!” Unfortunately, as the three stars were about to be announced, all I could think was: does he really deserve a star?
Before this gets off on the wrong foot, I realize that a NHL shutout is a great accomplishment. Since the lockout, there have been only 491 of them in regulation, and as I said before, no team has ever seen so many from such young tenders before. I also know Holtby is a talented goalie. After all, we here at RMNB have been referred to as the world’s foremost authority on the young netminder. But let’s put this in a little perspective.
Shutouts are based on three things:
- The quality of a goalie.
- The quantity of shots against
- The quality of shots against.
Holtby is a quality goaltender. Since his second call-up in January he has gone 4-0-1, giving up only 3 goals against and posting an outstanding .977 save percentage.
The quantity of shots he faced against Edmonton, 22, was about average, but the quality of the shots was relatively low — only eight of those 22 were scoring chances. The good news is that not only was that the number I had, but also the number Dennis of MC79 Hockey independently had as well. The bad news is that the Caps have seen more chances against in 16 individual periods of play this season than Holtby saw during the entire game.
Why bring this up? It’s important to keep expectations realistic with young goalies. While Holtby has done well since his most recent call-up, I think it is a tad premature (barring further injuries) to have him in the discussion as a potential starting goalie during the impending playoff run.