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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Braden Holtby quietly achieved a milestone over the weekend. In Sunday’s shootout win over the New York Islanders, Holtby faced his 3000th shot. That’s a big deal. Young goalies are really hard to forecast. Half of the ones that play over ten games wash out before they hit 3000. When they finally get enough reps, we should bask in the increasing clarity.

.917 Holtby’s career save percentage
3023 Number of shots faced in career
45.5 Percentage of career shots faced under Adam Oates

He’s looking pretty good, and I think he can get better.

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Photo: Mark Buckner

(Photo: Mark Buckner)

Coming into the 2014 NHL trade deadline, some fans feared Caps general manager George McPhee would make a drastic move in the hopes of securing a playoff spot. Instead, he made three reasonable ones. The Caps got better this year without harming themselves in the future.

The biggest deal was the final one, with the Caps sending Michal Neuvirth and the newly acquired Rostislav Klesla to the Buffalo Sabres for Caps killer Jaroslav Halak and a third-round pick.

“I think we start with Neuvirth, and he wasn’t happy being a number two,” McPhee told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “We tried to accommodate him. We brought in an experienced guy. I think it’s an upgrade on the tandem which is what we wanted to accomplish.”

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For as bad as the Washington Capitals defense has been this season, Braden Holtby has done his best to weather the storm.

He did so again on Sunday, after the Caps got confused in the defensive zone and allowed Wayne Simmonds a semi-breakaway.

Simmonds made a deke, catching the Holtbeast flat-footed. Holtby lost his balance, but then did something miraculous.

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Braden Holtby Almost Scores on Himself (GIF)

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The Washington Capitals killed off a two-minute five-on-three Boston Bruins power play in the first period, which could have even been classified as a five-on-two advantage when Brooks Laich broke his stick. The Bruins managed seven shots on net in the first twenty minutes – three from the ever-dangerous Torey Krug – and Braden Holtby, who was tremendous, stopped them all.

Holtby did, however, have to make one ten-bell save. On himself.

Yes, it was the hardest save he made all period.

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Caps Players Share Their Olympic Vacation Plans (Video)

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Moar jokes from these two!

Before the Washington Capitals left for Olympic break, I asked the non-Olympian players what their predictions were for Sochi. That was great, but I also asked them where they were going on vacation.

Some players were heading home, some were heading back to Hershey, and then others — whom I will not name — might have fibbed a bit about where they were actually going.

Check it out.

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Before Saturday’s game, I visited Kettler Capitals Iceplex and asked players for their Olympic picks. With the Caps sending five players to Sochi (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Martin Erat, and John Carlson), I wondered where Washington’s non-Olympians would place their allegiances.

I figured that since the RMNB staff was able to put its own biases aside when we made our predictions, maybe the players would do the same and maybe even offer some hardcore, dispassionate hockey analysis.

Nope. Not even a little.

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George McPhee Bruce Bennett

Photo: Bruce Bennett

On Sunday, Joe Micheletti of NBC Sports reported a quote from George McPhee that has been making the rounds. Except it’s not really a quote actually– just hearsay. According to Micheletti, GMGM said that the Washington Capitals would have ten more standings points if only they had better goaltending this season. McPhee declined to elaborate on that little piece of apocrypha on Monday, and the team didn’t get back to us when we asked about its veracity.

Katie Carrera of the Washington Post ran a wonderful piece about it on Monday. My favorite part was this quote by Braden Holtby:

“I think if we pay any attention to comments like that it brings the team apart.”

For perspective: That is a goalie talking about his employer, whose words might tear the team apart.

So… that’s not good.

I would like to set Braden’s mind at ease. If George McPhee actually said that (and I’m not sure he did), he’d be categorically wrong.

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Photo credit: @CapitalsPR

In one of the most adorable Washington Capitals pictures of all time, check out Braden Holtby as he poses with father Greg after posting his first shutout since November 1st.

During an intermission interview with Joe Beninati, Greg — a former junior and college hockey goalie — revealed that young Braden “wanted to be like me from the start.”

Greg continued, “I would come home with my hockey equipment and I would lay it all out. He would grab the mask and the gloves and everything and he would play in goal from like four years old on.”

Braden ended up playing goalie on his dad’s old junior team, the Saskatoon Blades, and the rest is history.

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Before every game, the Washington Capitals usually play soccer. That’s what you get when half your team is European.

The players usually form a circle and kick a soccer ball around in the air. In addition to waking up their muscles and tuning hand-eye coordination, the kickaround is a common team-building activity.

Except tonight, either because the players wanted to change things up due to their seven-game losing streak or because they forgot to pack the right equipment– the players used a giant yoga ball instead of soccer ball. CSN opened their telecast with a clip. It was silly.

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Caps Host Annual Dads Trip (Photos)

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Braden Holtby poses with his dad Greg. (Photo credit: @CapitalsPR)

In the middle of a six game losing streak, the Caps are in a tough stretch, playing their next five games on the road. Being away from home, though, has it upsides. This weekend, Washington is hosting their annual mentors trip, with players allowed to bring one guest to New Jersey and Montreal. The group is made up mostly of dads, who will get to see what it’s like to be an NHL player for a few days.  Continue Reading

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