When Braden Holtby was named the Vezina Trophy winner for the 2015-16 season as the NHL's top goalie, he likely did not expect he would have to fight just to backup Carey Price at the World Cup of Hockey. Yet, just three months later, he no finds himself at the bottom of Team Canada's depth chart.
Head coach Mike Babcock announced Friday that Corey Crawford will backup Carey Price in Canada's World Cup opener against the Czech Republic on Saturday. Holtby will not dress.
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The fact that Price was named the starter is no surprise despite the fact that a knee injury ended his season in November. He is still widely considered to be the best goalie in the league when healthy. Even Holtby thought so. After he was able to manage two exhibition games, it was clear he would be the No. 1.
But the fact that Holtby will not even dress is a surprise considering the season he just put together.
The reason may have something to do with both netminders' postseason success. With the Caps, Holtby has never been past the second round. Crawford, however, has backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to two Stanley Cups. With the pressure of a big tournament, perhaps Babcock is going with the goalie he has seen deliver when the stakes are at their highest.
Holtby also is not well suited to being a backup. He is a goalie who likes to be busy who seems to struggle when he sees less action. A backup has to be ready to step in cold in the middle of a game ready to perform.
But...did I mention Holtby just won the Vezina?
The fact that the reigning Vezina winner will be watching the start of the tournament from the press box shows you the depth Team Canada boasts for this tournament. It's a good problem to have.
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Tom Wilson scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom recorded four helpers and the assistant coaches chipped in with a big assist in Montreal, where the Caps earned a 6-4 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.
The win was Washington’s third in a row and seventh in eight games as they close in on another Metro Division title. Caps Coach Barry Trotz, meantime, claimed victory No. 200 in Washington; his next win will equal Bruce Boudreau for second all-time in franchise history.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Tom Wilson, Capitals
Wilson’s all-around game continues to blossom…and the Caps’ big winger continues to fill up the scoresheet. At Bell Centre, he scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period to put the Caps in command. Wilson also missed an empty net in the closing seconds by just a few inches. The soon-to-be 24-year-old now has 13 goals—six more than his previous career high.
2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
Backstrom notched four assists and, as usual, he did it quietly. And they weren’t cheapies—three of the four helpers were of the primary variety. Backstrom, who has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, has now notched four or more points 20 times in his career. It was also his 11th-career four assist game.
3-Leonhardt and Ohashi, Capitals
That’s right, I’m giving the third star to assistant coaches Brett ‘Stretch’ Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi. They quickly spotted that the Habs were offside on their second goal. And, after a coach’s challenge, the refs agreed. Instead of 2-0, it remained 1-0 and the Caps took full advantage of their second chance, scoring the game’s next four goals.
Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.
What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.
Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.
WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?
The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.
WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME ON?
The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)
6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?
You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.
CAPITALS-CANADIENS OPEN THREAD
Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans.
For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.