Braden Holtby continued to look sharp in his return to the Capitals as he stopped all but one of the 15 shots he faced in Monday’s shootout win over the Blues.
“I think he’s played quite well considering he hasn’t had the…quantity of shots that he’s normally getting,” Trotz said, referring to Holtby’s less-than-ideal World Cup workload. “And also the game reps that he usually gets with traffic and the concentration over long periods of time.”
In the 1½ games he’s played since returning from Toronto, where he served Team Canada's No. 3 netminder, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has stopped 37 of 39 shots against the Islanders and Blues. (He gave way to Philipp Grubauer midway through Monday’s game.)
“It’s great to see,” winger T.J. Oshie said of Holtby’s quick start in the preseason. “One thing about Holts is we’ve just come to expect it. We definitely appreciate it. We like having it. That’s the kind goalie he is. He didn’t win the Vezina for no reason. It was good for him to get in there, see some pucks. He looks great. He’s got that swagger about him again. I’m excited to see how he finishes up the preseason.”
As good as his preseason numbers have looked, though, Holtby says there are some areas he must clean up between now and the regular season opener Oct. 13 against the Penguins.
“There’s been plays where I haven’t sharp, either, they just haven’t gone in the net,” he said. “ Still things that I can work on. Just trying to get back in the swing of things. Guys have been playing really well defensively.”
Asked specifically what he area needs to refine, Holtby said: “Behind the net play, post play, all that stuff. The shots off the rush. Everything, you just have to get a little sharper at. The power play stuff is coming pretty naturally; I got a lot of work on that in practice in Toronto. So that helps. It’s just the other stuff that you can’t practice is the stuff that you need to have games to get better at.”
Holtby said he’s not sure how many of the final three exhibitions he’ll start, but he wants as much playing time as he can get.
“I’d like to play them all,” he said. “But we obviously we both have to get ready for the season ahead, and that’s going to be the goal. And the coaches will figure out the best way to do that.”
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