Maybe it was the fact he was standing next to one of the greatest goaltenders to ever lace up a pair of hockey skates.
Maybe his mind was wandering back to his teenage days when he read Martin Brodeur’s autobiography, Beyond The Crease, cover to cover.
Maybe someone whispered to him that before the game, Brodeur told reporters he reminded him of himself.
Whatever the reasons, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby wasn’t sure what to do for Saturday’s pre-game ceremonial puck drop involving Brodeur and Devils goaltender Cory Schneider.
“It was a little awkward,” Holtby said after stopping 22 of 24 shots, plus two of three more in the Caps’ 3-2 shootout win over the Devils Saturday at Prudential Center.
“Cory and I looked at each other. We didn’t know what to do. Was it an actual puck drop? We forgot to take a picture (with Brodeur). It was bad.”
Once the real puck dropped Holtby went back to doing what he does best, keeping the Capitals in the game long enough for Paul Carey to tie the score late in the third period and Alex Ovechkin to win it in the shootout, after Holtby denied shootout attempts by Joseph Blandisi and Jacob Josefson.
Holtby is now an incredible 24-1-3 in his last 28 decisions and leads the NHL with 32 wins. With a record of 32-5-3, Holtby is on pace for 52 wins, which would shatter Brodeur’s single season record of 48 wins in 2006-07. Brodeur needed 78 games to set that record. Holtby is on pace to play just 67 games.
“It’s definitely something I look at because really the only stat I care about is wins,” Holtby said. “It’s a stat you can share with the rest of your team because everyone is part of it. We have a good group here and we know we have a lot of work to do in order to grow our game. But winning is the point, that’s why we’re here.”
Playing his second game in three days, Holtby said he felt better on Saturday than he did in Thursday night’s 3-2 win over the Islanders. After allowing a power-play goal by Blandisi early in the third period, Holtby says he never saw Adam Henrique’s go-ahead goal because teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov inadvertently sprayed snow in his face on a furious backcheck.
“It was kind of a weird play because I got a face full of snow before I could pick up the puck,” Holtby said, unaware it was Kuznetsov who provided the whiteout. “I didn’t see the release of it. I think he made a good shot, I’m not sure.”
Aside from Henrique’s goal, Holtby left a good impression on Brodeur, a goalie he grew up watching as a teenager growing up in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.
“It’s a big honor to be here when Marty is honored,” Holtby said. “Those were the goalies of my era – Marty, Patrick Roy, Marty Turco. That’s who I watched every single day. When I got deeper into goaltending I read (Brodeur’s) book. The mental ability he had and his stamina, it’s just amazing. You look at his stats and it’s like it’s not even real.”
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