Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Thursday night, the New York Rangers opened the scoring in game four after Braden Holtby made an aggressive play that ultimately backfired. Holtby fired a saucer pass up the center of the ice that was intercepted by Taylor Pyatt, who knocked the puck out of the air with his stick. Brad Richards ultimately scored on an empty net.

With three out of four games in the Caps/Rangers series having been decided by one goal, it was a play too risky for Holtby to try. Capitals’ head coach Adam Oates agreed with that sentiment Thursday after practice.

“Probably. Obviously in hindsight he could’ve made a better decision, gone up the wall,” Oates said to The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera. “But he saw something and we trust him.”

Holtby disagreed.

“I thought I made the right play,” the Lloydminster, Saskatchewan native said. “I just need to get that a foot higher in the air, make him take a high stick. He made a great play knocking that down. He doesn’t make that; that’s a breakaway the other way. That happens.”

No, that’s too risky. That kind of play shouldn’t happen.

One game earlier, Holtby iced the puck on a Capitals power play, which was equally as infuriating.

Playing the puck as a goaltender is a supplemental part of the game. When Holtby starts blurring the lines between easy plays and ones that could end up in the back of the net, he looks a bit too brazen. And really, he should leave that to Patrick Roy, who did stuff like this his whole career.

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  • The fact that he doesn’t even see what he did as even a wee bit of a problem worries me.

  • I think you nailed it, Braden Holtby = Patrick Roy. Unless I missed something in the article?

  • Guest

    Yeah, when you stop allowing for the possibility that you could have made the wrong decision (regardless of execution), you stop being a team player, and that’s what you really really need a goalie to be.

  • dcv

    Yes, because Holtby has never admitted to making a mistake in his life…except for after just about every goal he’s ever given up.

  • He usually does own up to his mistakes, which is why it’s surprising that he’s not admitting he screwed up royally here. And I adore the guy but really, he messed up badly here.

  • After reading the entirety of the WaPo article, I think it might be reaching just a little to say that Holtby “disagreed”. Oates seemed pretty careful to use non-definitive language (as coaches are wont to do), and seemed to accept it as a mistake in execution on a decision they otherwise trust Holtby to make.

    That said, he probably shouldn’t have tried for a play like that with the game as close as it was, and I suspect we’ll see him being a lot more conservative with his puck handling tonight.

  • If we still say Braden Holtby = Patrick Roy in 10 years, I’m very, very happy.

  • HMA8

    Actually, I think it’s a plus (even though he’s wrong). Confidence is a great asset for a goalie.

  • the professional goal tender disagrees.

  • I’d rather Holts be aggressive and confident than play safer and feel like he’s being second guessed by the coaching staff. if he says it was the right play then it probably was.

  • Rob

    I only hope that one day at a press conference a cocky Holtby will be able to exclaim he cannot hear the criticism due to the stanley cup rings plugging his ears

  • Ok that play were he iced the puck was a GREAT play, not his fault two caps failed to touch the puck

  • Hahaha. That’d be sassy.

  • Rob

    I just realized people might not know what it is I am talking about, here( i know most folks on this site will):

  • I think we’re missing the point here. A goalie should NEVER ice the puck while his team is on the power play. Never, ever, ever, ever. Yes the two dudes should have had it, but that play wipes out like 25 seconds of power play time. Just getting it up to a defenseman or another forward around the blue line and let them carry it would have been the better play. You gotta play the percentages.

  • Yup, exactly.

  • I’m amazed the Holtby haterz haven’t come out yet. They usually sit in silence until the HoltBeast has a subpar game, then, wham! They’re all over him.
    He had a pretty subpar game overall.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Goaltending has been the scapegoat of the Caps woes for ages. Nothing has changed. Kolzig, Varlamov, Vokoun, Theodore, Johnson, and Huet were all vilified. What the “haterz” always fail to form in their argument is how weak our blueline has been for over a decade. McPhee hates physical or bruising D-men who can win puck battles, clog up the neutral zone, and clear the crease. He prefers anyone that is a puck-moving defenseman or who is passive and conservative.

  • I have a friend who keep rambling about how we should have kept Vokoun instead of Holtby (she HATES Holtby). She’s clearly wrong, but if Pittsburgh wins a cup with Vokoun, I will probably take a moratorium on talking to her.
    Let it be known, Holtby is my favorite player.

  • Holtby’s been unbelievable in the series and pretty much the entire year. There’s not much to hate on. Again, I just think this is part of his game that needs to continue to evolve. If the Caps were down 5-2, he would have had a longer leash here. Instead it was 0-0 and it gave the Rangers all the mo. Not smart.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Holtby isn’t the issue, no worries. He stole game 2 for us. I like his aggressiveness around the net and ability to read through traffic. With Vokoun, I thought he played well here. He was a top-10 goalie before he came to Washington, and his value dropped last season because of an injury and the fact that Boudreau and Hunter were rotating him with Neuvy. Both solid goaltenders, but goaltending has never been an issue with Washington. It’s always been defense. Holts doesn’t have it as easy this postseason as he did last year.

  • OlietheGoalie

    Holtby is confident. He’s also young. He’ll learn. If he had gotten that puck a foot higher (as he said), we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. I still love him as a goalie and am glad we have him for -hopefully- years to come.

    Also, Patrick Roy is a beast. That is all. Stupid red line getting in the way of a goalie-on-goalie breakaway.