The Capitals’ informal skates resumed Monday morning with one notable addition: goaltender Braden Holtby, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
After facing shots for nearly an hour, Holtby acknowledged that he’s ramping up his offseason workouts a little earlier than usual. Why? He’s one of three goalies set to play for Team Canada in next month’s World Cup of Hockey.
“It’ll be different; I’ve never done it before,” Holtby said of suiting up for his country’s national squad. “Obviously, it’s a huge honor.”
Eight Capitals, including Holtby, are set to participate in the eight-team tournament, which runs Sept. 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto. Teams are scheduled to hold their first practices on Sept. 5.
Holtby said he’s not concerned about taking on a heavier-than-usual-workload before embarking on a grueling six-month NHL regular season. He did, however, point out that getting through the World Cup in full health is the primary objective.
“If you look after yourself it shouldn’t matter,” Holtby said of practicing and playing games that actually count a couple of weeks earlier than a typical season. “We’re professional athletes. You should be able to grind through it [and] just hope no one gets injured. That’s the main thing.”
“Same as I said before,” Holtby added, “It’s still the season back here with the Capitals that’s important.”
Holtby, who on Tuesday was named the game’s top netminder by a panel of NHL Network experts, will join fellow goalies Carey Price (Canadiens) and Corey Crawford (Blackhawks) on Team Canada’s roster.
Because of the depth in net, Holtby said he’s not sure how much he’ll play in Toronto, adding, “I’ll just show up and do what’s asked.”
However things play out, though, Holtby said he’ll find a way to use the World Cup experience to enure he's dialed in for the Caps' season.
“The main focus is still back with the Capitals,” he said. “So, I’ll use the next month and a half to make sure I’m ready for the season here.”
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