CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Braden Holtby
HtWt: 6-2, 203
Goals Against Average: 2.49
Save Percentage: .922
Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 3-year, 1.855 million contract 600,000 cap hit in 2012-13
Strengths: At 22, Holtby showed incredible poise in the playoffs, matching Tim Thomas save-for-save in Round 1 against the Bruins and going toe-to-toe with Henrik Lundqvist in Round 2. He fights hard to see the puck and is very difficult to beat down low. Moreover, his puck-handling skills make him a third defenseman capable of quickly moving the puck.
Weaknesses: Holtby has a tendency to be over-aggressive in his crease and can get himself out of position with daring pokechecks. He is also very hard on himself after losses and has an exhaustive pre-game routine that could eventually sap his energy. Overall, though, he appears to have the makings of No. 1 NHL goalie.
Memorable Moment on the ice: Holtby delivered many of them, but his right pad save on the Bruins Tyler Seguin in Game 5 of the conference quarterfinals was a doozy. Holtby was guarding his left post when the puck sprung out to Seguin alone in front. Holtby flashed out his right pad to take away a certain goal and preserve a 3-2 lead.
Memorable Moment off the ice: Holtby showed incredible maturity as he spoke of the birth of his first child while preparing for Game 7 against the Rangers, but it was his pre-game meditations that drew the most attention. Before Game 7 in New York, Holtby stood in front of the first row of seats directly behind the net and stared into space while hard rock music blared from the Madison Square Garden speakers. Holtbys pre-game routine is part of a visualization technique that allows him to remain calm in a tense situation. It could be a beach, he said of his pre-game meditation. Or I could be skating on a pond back home as a kid. It brings you back down to earth and relaxes you.
2012-13 Expectations: Holtbys GAA 1.95 and save percentage .935 in the playoffs ranked third among goalies who appeared in five or more playoff games. He wont be able to hit those numbers over the course of a regular season but he has earned himself the No. 1 job over Michal Neuvirth heading into next season.