Braden Holtby has been busy this year, playing in 53 of the Capitals’ 62 games. Maybe that’s why he just unveiled his fourth new mask of the 2014-15 season. Painted by Swedish artist Dave Gunnarsson, the mask integrates some design features from Holtby’s Winter Classic bucket. The hand-painted Uncle Sam portrait, an homage to Olie Kolzig, returns on the chin.
On February 19th, 2015, let it be remembered that 59 games into the season, the Caps were straight pwning the NHL’s leaderboard. Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals (38) and Nicklas Backstrom leads the league in both assists (45) and points (63). Ovi is also third in the league in points and trails Backstrom by two.
ESPN’s Scott Burnside traveled with the Washington Capitals to document the team’s recent annual fathers trip. The whole story is a great read, but my favorite snippet was about Braden Holtby.
Holtby’s father Greg, who was once a junior goaltender with the Saskatoon Blades, revealed that he hoped his son would someday take over the family’s farm. Instead of being the Holtbeast, Braden could have been the Holtcattleherder-- which doesn’t really have the same ring to it.
Greg was, in Burnside’s words, “unfailingly supportive” of tiny Braden’s dream of being a NHL goaltender.
Braden Holtby has appeared in 49 of the Caps’ 58 games, which has him tied with Cory Schneider for the league lead among NHL goalies. This puts him on pace to play in 69 games this season, a total that would be the fifth most all-time by a Caps’ goalie.
As the games get more meaningful down the stretch, Holtby’s workload isn’t going to decrease. Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post noted this before the Caps win over the Ducks on Sunday.
Written plenty on the goalies already, but gist is this: If Holtby's healthy, whoever's behind him isn't playing much from here on anyway.
If Holtby sits just two times the rest of the way, he will finish the season with 71 appearances. Let’s split the difference between his pace and Alex’s higher estimate and say Holtby will end the season with 70 appearances. A heavy workload, for sure. Some Caps’ fans have expressed concern over Holtby’s regular season workload hindering his playoff performance.
When the Caps went on the power play in the second period, Braden Holtby showed off another part of his game that we adore: his offense. After an Oiler shot a puck on net, Holtby gloved the puck out of the air, threw it to the ice, and chucked a 110-foot pass to Troy Brouwer at the opposing blue line.
The pregamer’s prediction was wrong. Braden Holtby will make his 23rd consecutive appearance tonight at Philadelphia, his 17th consecutive start. Wayne Stephenson played 22 straight for the Caps in 1979 – 1980.
Holtby has saved 93.78 percent of 5-on-5 shots since November 29th and 92.5 percent in all situations. He’s collected 11 wins in that span.
After the Washington Capitals concluded their first and only practice on the Winter Classic ice sheet, head coach Barry Trotz gathered his team in a semi-circle.
“They’re kicking us off the ice so we can let our families and let the people who helped us get here and the people you care about have some time on the ice,” Trotz said as the group disbanded. It was at that point dozens of friends, girlfriends, wives, and children came out onto the ice to enjoy a family skate with the Caps.
“This is Belle,” Braden Holtby said to EPIX cameras. “This is her first time on the ice.”
“Too bad you won’t remember this,” Holtby said, as he head turned to his new-born daughter. “We will.”
“It’s been a pleasure to work with your son,” Trotz said to Ovechkin’s parents, as the Russian machine translates. “I don’t know if it’s a pleasure coming back, but I know it’s a pleasure this way. I think we get along.”
“Happy New Year, health, good luck for the whole team and your family,” Ovechkin’s father responded back in Russian.