Let’s just take it all in, mope around for the next day or two like red-rocking Eeyores, and wallow in the wah wah wah (that’s what a sad trombone sounds like). It’s not fun; no, but we need to give the grieving process time to do its thing.
Thursday night, the New York Rangers opened the scoring in game four after Braden Holtbymade 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.
In Braden Holtby‘s first full season in the NHL, he dominated, proving that his great play in years past wasn’t a flash in the pan. He may very well be the long-term solution in net for the Washington Capitals, and the first guy to carry the load in net since Olie Kolzig left nearly a decade ago. But there are parts of Holtby’s game that are still raw, and tonight, that may have cost the Capitals the game.
New York dominated the first period, but Washington almost got out unscathed. That is until Holtby played a loose puck at the left circle. Instead of going the safe route and dumping the puck up the boards to a teammate, Braden decided to sauce a pass through the middle of the ice. The puck did not reach its intended target. Instead, it was whacked down by Taylor Pyatt and eventually shot into an empty net by Brad Richards.
I don’t know how you guys are coping, but I am doing poorly. A playoff series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers seems constitutionally incapable of being stress-free. Game three’s penalty problems continued in game four, and the Caps struggled with special teams and other complex ideas such as shooting and passing. The Rangers seemed to be able to summon a lead on a whim, leaving the Caps to mount a comeback pretty much throughout.
Despite the Caps getting better (and more desperate) as the clock wound down, the Rangers won another game on home ice.
Holtby leads the Caps on the ice for warmups prior to Game 2. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
It’s playoff time, which means we’re in for an inordinate amount of NBC coverage showing Braden Holtby getting all zen-like on the Capitals’ bench. But what, exactly, is going through the young goaltender’s mind in those moments?
“It’s just visualization techniques, breathing techniques,” Holtby, in a crisp suit with a purple pocket square, told me Sunday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex before the team’s flight to New York. “It’s just one of the things I do I try to do to get my mind in the same frame every night. It gets a lot of attention but a lot of guys do it, you just don’t see it.”
Holtby’s right about it being more widespread than some think.
So we know Holtby’s visualizing; we’ve heard that a thousand times. But what does that actually mean? Well, Holtby says he almost playing a game in his head, imagining what the other team is doing and how he wants to react.
“You go over everything: certain plays, certain things you’ve been working on that you want to see yourself do correctly,” he said. “It’s just visualizing what you want to do. … Try to view yourself the way you want to be viewed.”
So there you have it: Braden Holtby spends his time before big games daydreaming.
Hockey hypertension. The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers played a high-tension matinee game that had everyone watching in conniption fits. Superb performances by goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby kept the game scoreless through regulation despite some dazzling chances at both ends. I’m trying to think of a non-cliched way to say we were on the edge of our seats, but I’m way too wrapped up in this to be clever right now.
Braden Holtby refused all offers, and the Capitals dominated overtime until Mike Green ended it on the power play.
Caps beat Rangers 1-0 (Overtime). Caps lead the series 2-0.