News, notes and quotes as we take a step back from one of the most successful regular seasons in the Capitals’ 42-year history:
Holtby cool with sitting: Hockey historians may have wanted Braden Holtby to get a shot at NHL history by playing in the Caps’ final game of the regular season on Sunday after facving just 20 shots in a 5-1 win Saturday night in St. Louis, but Holtby didn’t make much noise over it, saying he never tried to talk his way into playing.
“No, I leave that up to the coaches,” Holtby said after watching backup Philipp Grubauer take a 2-0 loss to the Blues. “That’s not my job to decide.”
Holtby had his moment in the sun the night before when he tied Martin Brodeur’s NHL record of 48 victories, set in 2006-07. Brodeur, the assistant general manager in St. Louis, personally congratulated Holtby after the game.
“It was obviously an honor to meet him,” Holtby said. “I had never officially met him before so it was pretty cool he was there. The guys (teammates) obviously were pretty excited. We shared it together and it was fun. We got it out of the way and now we can focus on what we’re trying to accomplish.”
With 48 wins in 68 starts, Holtby finished with the highest single-season winning percentage (72.7 percent) of any goalie in NHL history with 60 or more starts. Tom Barrasso held the previous record, winning 69.4 percent of his starts (43 wins in 62 starts) in 1992-93 with the Penguins.
No Jennings: With their 2-0 loss to the Blues the Caps lost their hold on the Jennings Trophy, awarded annually to the goaltenders whose team finishes with the fewest goals against. Thanks to Holtby (48-9-7, 2.20 GAA, .922 SP) and Grubauer (8-9-1, 2.32, .918) the Caps allowed an average of 2.33 goals per game (191 goals allowed), second behind the Anaheim Ducks, who won the Jennings with a 2.29 goals allowed average (188 goals allowed).
Holtby said it was “unfortunate” to see Grubauer finish with a losing record “because he put in solid efforts all year.”
82-game club: Seven Capitals – defensemen Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and forwards Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson – played in all 82 games this season.
Eighty-five NHL players accomplished the feat, but no team had more players play in every game. The closest to the Capitals were the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild with five players each. Two Islanders (Frans Nielsen and Nicky Leddy) were healthy scratches in the Isles’ season-ending loss to the Flyers, which guaranteed a first-round playoff date with the Florida Panthers instead of the Pittsburgh Penguins
“What it says to me is you’re managing your game right as professional athletes,” Caps coach Barery Trotz said. “From a coaching and training standpoint you’re happy about that because you feel like you’re getting the right work and rest ratio, and you’ve got to be a little bit lucky. We’ve got some durable guys, which is good.”
Rocket man: Alex Ovechkin (50 goals) won his sixth Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer. Only Bobby Hull (seven) has led the NHL in goals more times than Ovechkin. Ovechkin also hit the 50-goal mark for the seventh time in his 11-year NHL career.
Record year: The Capitals (120 points) established a franchise record with 56 wins, two more than the 2009-10 team that finished with 54 wins and 121 points.
The Caps were 29-8-4 at home this season, one win shy of the franchise record for home victories (30, set in 1085-86 and matched in 2009-10).
The Caps finished 22-7-1 in back-to-back games this season and became the first team since the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens to go an entire season without back-to-back regulation losses.
Enemy eyes: The Flyers had three pro scouts in attendance for Sunday night’s Capitals game, but saw no new wrinkles, especially with scattered forward lines and defense pairings.
“I don’t think they got a whole lot from that game,” Trotz said wistfully. “Seriously.
“… What you find in Game 82 is everybody’s just trying to get through it.”
Looking forward, not back: Holtby said he’s not putting a whole lot of credence to the Capitals’ emotional 2-1 shootout loss to the Flyers back on March 30 in Philadelphia, a game he said the Capitals allowed the referees get into their heads.
“That game, we didn’t play exactly how we wanted to,” Holtby said. “They’re going to play tough. It didn’t really matter to us which team we played. Every team has strengths and weaknesses and it’s a matter of exposing weaknesses and sticking to your own strengths.
“It’ll be tough. It’ll be hard-fought. They have a physical group and a lot of skill. Realistically, it doesn’t matter what opponent we have. For us it’s focusing on what’s made us successful and that’ being the Capitals. There’s a lot of experience in this room. It’s a veteran group, a mature group. Everyone has had the same goal since Day One. It hasn’t been about the regular season; it’s about preparing for the playoffs. It’s a long grind and the key is taking one game at a time, simplifying everything and bringing your best effort out there.”
MORE CAPITALS: Williams 'honored and humbled' by pregame ceremony