Braden Holtby: 2013-14 Season Review

The once and future franchise goalie, Braden Holtby might’ve suffered the Oates Effect worse than anyone else. But doesn’t that mean he’ll rebound higher than anyone else next season? Yes. Yes, it does. I think.

By the Numbers

48 Games played
93.0% 5v5 save percentage
1107 5v5 shots faced
2.8 Goal support per sixty minutes
86.8% Shorthanded save percentage
235 Shots faced while shorthanded

Peter’s Take

When the season began, it looked like Braden Holtby had finally arrived. After another splendid postseason in 2013, Holtby had the number-one goalie slot locked down and was putting up stunning numbers. Then, in late November/early December, he slipped a bit. His confidence was off, and his numbers showed it.

Within a week he was on the bench, watching Philipp Grubauer get all the starts. Word spread that new goalie coach Olie Kolzig had changed Braden’s game per Adam Oates’ orders. The changes were bad. And yet– Holtby’s numbers on the season weren’t so bad overall.

During 5v5, only six goaltenders had a higher save percentage: Rask, Price, Bob, Varly, Bishop, and Bernier. That’s good company.

Where Holtby ran into trouble was the penalty kill, which was historically atrocious this season. Holtby allowed 31 goals in 226 minutes– the worst goals-against/60 in the league.

Here’s the part where the geeks might part company from me: I think Holtby is a world-class goaltender. Despite his “bad” season, he had really strong numbers at 5v5. The PK, which I literally virtually almost sorta guarantee will improve next season, was what really bit him. Holtby’s overall save percentage probably suffered from team effects and some ill-considered fiddling. If Holtby can play his style in front of a competent system next season– I think he could put up a performance that befits the label elite.

Take it to #thebank.

Holtbeast on RMNB

In Pictures

This had nothing to do with how many pucks Holtby stopped this season, so shut up. Freaking Ray Emery.

Falcon punch!

Wayne Simmonds is jokes, but Holtby is jokes-er.

Knob save. This would be jokes if we could be sure it was deliberate.

This next one was from Holtby’s rough stretch in late November, so that kinda explains the frustration.

Expect to see this helmet on Jan 1, 2015, by which point I better have a girlfriend I swear to god

Your Turn

Say whatever you want, but I swear if you gimme some line about how the Emery fight changed the season, I’m gonna key your car.

Do you think Holtby is elite? No, you don’t. But do you think he could be? Is it fair to wave away this season, citing the Oates Effect? And how bout that head of hair? I mean, god damn.

Read more: Japers Rink

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  • Sarah

    I agree with everything here. (No, I have nothing productive to add.)

  • Simonezero

    Goalie drama is the worst. Thanks, Oates. See ya, Oates.

    I really hope the (new) coaching staff support him and his playing style. This is our goalie, and he will be elite.

    http://isawthereplay.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/holtby9.jpg?w=500

  • Richmonder

    Oates benching Holtby for Grubauer after one particularly rough stretch changed his season. Instead of giving him a few games off then going back to him he completely destroyed his confidence. Holtby can be great. Just need better penalty killers and a coach that trusts him.

  • Steven Lemmeyer

    Despite the fact that I am a huge Holtbeast fan and that he does get the Oates pass (this is scientifically proven)…he does have the potential to be elite. Oh also, he took a picture with my friend Whitney so they should sign him for life.

  • Jimmie

    My impression is hockey goalies are a lot like baseball closers: strange ducks with psychological makeups that are different from other players in the sport. Confidence makes up a big part of their game; they wear it like armor. When their coach professes confidence in them but, by action, shows something quite different, the armor cracks and fails.

    Oates cracked Holtby’s armor several times this season, seemingly on purpose. I have no idea why, but it happened and it had a big effect on his game.

  • JenniferH

    Yup, Holtby can and will be Elite. Yes, Holtby has the best flow in the league. Yes, I have a major crush on him. :D

  • Myan

    I don’t know that Holtby is “elite” at this point in his career but when he’s been left to play his game, he’s proven that he’s an “above average goalie”. If the new coaching staff shows trust in him and lets him play to his strengths, I think he’ll really flourish next season.

    It would also help his game immensely if our D didn’t let chances like Calvert’s and Simmonds’ happen 5x a game!

  • standarsh

    I do feel like goalies are easy scapegoats, fortunately for the caps it seems everyone realizes the issues were with the defense. Tighten that up next year, use a PK strategy that actually works, and I see no reason he can’t put in a top 10 performance next year. Agree 100% on the article.

  • Myan

    On the same note, how effing cute his son?!

  • Owen Johnson

    Oh.. My. GOD! Is that actually Holtby? Or just someone who looks slightly like Holtby?

  • Steven Lemmeyer

    As a former college goalie myself I can promise you the one thing you DO NOT do to a goalie is try and change their play style. All it does is mess with the head.

  • JenniferH

    Oh, that’s Braden! :D :D :D How have you not seen and laughed yourself silly over that pic before? HAH!

  • JenniferH

    I totally forgot to mention that I squeed when I saw the pic they chose. SUCH A CUTE BABY!!!!

  • Owen Johnson

    I think he can absolutely be one of the best tenders in the league next year (I refrain from using “elite” since that’s the word dumb sportscasters on ESPN use to describe QBs as if there were an achievement in a video game: “Sure Russell Wilson was always good, but now that he has won a Super Bowl, would you consider him ‘elite?'”)
    Also, I have a HUUUUUUUGE man-crush on Holtby.

  • James Desautels

    I don’t understand the burning desire to have a GF…especially by Jan 1, IE winter season so you’re stuck shelling out hard earned cash on all kinds of gifts. Let me break this down for you as simple as I can-GF becomes wife, wife becomes a kid, then multiple kids, now you’re savings are gone because you need a house and you can’t feed your wife and kid chipotle 3x a week, now it’s playoffs and you’re having to explain why you watch all the games til the wee hours of the morning and accidentally fall asleep on the couch, now you can’t even watch hockey 82+ times per year because your kids play hockey and practice…did I mention all your money and life savings are gone?…JK I love my wife and son. But seriously, think about it.

  • Graham Dumas

    CONTEXT PLEASSSSSSSSSSE. That is ridiculous.

  • Bilal

    Holtby will shine next season. Near the end of the year, when Olie finally let him play his natural aggressive style, he played really well. Kinda sucks that Oates forced him to play that passive style. But I look forward to see him next season. He’s still got lots of potential. I honestly think he can be a vezina candidate in the future

  • Bilal

    what in the sweet jesus……….?

  • JenniferH

    I’m surprised more people aren’t aware of this sweet pic of Braden, LOL!

  • Camillia Gomez

    I think he has the potential to be elite. I love how this review ends with a comment on his hair, hahaha!

  • Sarah

    Ray Emery is:
    1. A boxer who can win one match against a hockey goalie
    2. A goalie who can (maybe) stop shots fired by boxers
    3. F’d if it’s the other way around.

  • VeggieTart

    During 5v5, only six goaltenders had a higher save percentage: Rask, Price, Bob, Varly, Bishop, and Bernier. That’s good company.

    And five of them were on teams that made the playoffs (okay, Tampa didn’t last long, but STILL).

    Let Braden play HIS way, and I’m sure you’ll have a goalie who strikes fear into the hearts of opponents.

  • VeggieTart

    4. A boxer who thinks he’s a goaltender.

  • Sarah

    Well put. It’s like, dude, would you just make up your mind which sport you want to suck at?

  • Sarah

    Thank you. I always thought that was probably the case. It seems kind of intuitive that it’s not wise, like messin’ with Sasquatch.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8W9U0qhLz8

  • sheena dunn

    Spoiler Alert: There’s another baby Holtby coming soon….Due early June/Late May

  • Sarah

    Some Hershey Bears bowling night function, I believe. You can see others in the background dressed similarly ridiculously.

  • Matt Lauer

    I cannot think of a single reason to suspect Holtby’s ability to buttress this otherwise mediocre defensive team. The defense was *SO* atrocious this season, no goalie could have salvaged the team. I predict great things on the turnaround. #thebank

  • Catherine__M

    Or….. you could get a girlfriend who cares more about doing things rather than receiving things, and besides makes and spends her own money on those things (and those “things” it tend to be hockey games a third of the time anyway), who also has a built-in Chipotle budget (that’s not going anywhere) and who’d probably be passed out on the couch next to you trying to watch those west coast games.

  • James Desautels

    Also, sometimes I wake up at night and I have drool on me, but I can’t really tell anymore if it’s just my drool or Liam’s (my son). I cared about cleanliness and germs a lot before all this. Now I realize I will lose this war. This is the fallout of a GF. Choose your destiny wisely.

  • James Desautels

    Peter, if this girl above is real call her. Or tweet, FB message, e harmony creep each other first, whatevs….I’ve been outta the game a while, I am not sure what all you young cats are doing anymore.

  • Sarah

    Posting hockey statistics and passing out on the sofa. But as Catherine points out, there’s a certain type of girl who’s fine with that.

  • Graham Dumas

    I feel like I’ve seen some guys in Russia with that same tracksuit… Stylin’!

  • Catherine__M

    You may very well be right about the psychological differences between goaltenders and the rest of the team (not sure about closers myself, have only a passing acquaintance with baseball).

    There’s a RadioLab short podcast about that exact topic–about how they are basically playing a different game from the rest of the team, and are doing it alone and successes and failures are much more individual. Plus an interesting thought about some (anecdotally) similar childhoods some famous goalies have. I really recommend it (and just about everything RadioLab does).

    The episode is called “The Loneliness of the Goalkeeper” (it’s about soccer but it is transferable to any sport that has a goalie): http://www.radiolab.org/story/113579-radiolab-presents-loneliness-goalkeeper/

  • JH

    I will preface this by saying I am much less confident of my assessment of the goaltender position than of other positions. I agree Holtby was doing very well until Oates messed up his system and his confidence.

    I think Holtby is a very good goaltender with an aggressive style. I think what I hear from goalie experts is that while an aggressive style can serve you pretty well, the optimal style for the NHL might be to stay deeper in the net? In other words, to get an A+ performance, you need to be more like IceMan and less like Maverick.

    I think the jury is still out on whether Holtby will be OK or great. There are still a lot of goaltenders that, if price were no object, I would rather have in net (Price, Crawford, Miller, Hiller, Bobrovsky, Rask, Quick). I like Holtby – I really do – but I think we need to be clear eyed and cold hearted about the goalie position.

  • Simonezero

    This Will Be

  • pixiestix

    Maybe relax a bit about the gf by Jan 1. Besides the point that the air of desperation tends to be an unattractive quality, online dating really heats up in January. Just my 2 cents.

  • Sarah

    Wait a minute. Is that Edward Snowden in the background? Does he like the Caps?

  • Sarah

    Something will be. It has to be. I can’t deal with a world where Pierre Maguire is getting action from P.K.Subban, and these two nice, attractive people can’t make something work.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I actually don’t think the penalty killers we have are that bad. It was the system that was horrible.

  • Shaun Phillips

    He’ll be fine. Like other people have noted, before and after #Oatesitis, he was great. It was when he had the mini-slump (largely from being overplayed) and Oates forced the style change (instead of letting him play through), that’s when things went to crap. More of Oates’s weird obsession to individual details, while missing the larger picture.

  • VeggieTart

    I heard a rumor that they were pregnant again.

  • Jayleigh

    Peter, seriously, how do you *not* have a girlfriend? When did smart, witty and cute go out of style? I’m just going to blame Oates for that, too. Ruining good dudes everywhere.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    <3 radiolab

  • Freedoooom

    His PK SV% was the highest its ever been in his career.

    So thats a pretty terrible excuse.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    shrug

    working on it

    thank you

  • sheena dunn

    Its not a rumor. I saw her in Old Town last weekend and I follow her on twitter. Shes very pregnant.

  • VeggieTart

    Well, well, congrats to both of them.

  • Catherine__M

    Ha, awesome. And not surprising in the least :).

  • James Desautels

    If we’ve learned anything from this diatribe on Peter’s love life it’s that we’re all a community who cares even when the Caps stopped playing long ago. Group hi five