If the NHL season ended today, Braden Holtby would be the runaway winner for the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender and he would probably get a fair number of votes for the Hart Trophy as league MVP as well (though Patrick Kane would win it). The Caps netminder has been phenomenal all season long, but over the course of 82 games, weeks like the one he just had are bound to happen.
Holtby was pulled in the second period of the Caps' game on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres after giving up three goals. The game ended in a 4-1 loss which was credited to Holtby, his first regulation loss since Nov. 10 snapping an incredible 20-0-2 streak. He was one game shy of breaking the franchise record set by Jose Theodore in 2009-10 in which he went 20-0-3.
Because he played only about half of the game head coach Barry Trotz elected to start Holtby again the following day against the New York Rangers. He again left in the second period, this time pulling himself out due to dehydration.
In a season full of spectacular play, this week was certainly a low point for Holtby.
When someone is having an incredible season, however, these blips on the radar can be magnified to look much worse than they actually are. Let's keep things in perspective.
Saturday's loss was the Caps' first regulation loss in 2016. The dehydration issue is not considered serious and Holtby is not expected to miss any time because of it. The Caps still won Sunday's game even without Holtby and now have an incredible 17-point lead in the division.
It's a long season and players and teams go through ups and downs. If this is the low point of the season for Holtby, then Caps fans have a lot to look forward to this spring.