Caps prepare to face Braden Holtby for the first time


The Capitals will see a very familiar face on Friday as they head to Dallas to take on Braden Holtby and the Stars.

Though Holtby left Washington as a free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season, COVID-19 disruptions to a normal schedule have kept the Caps from facing their former netminder up until now. It is not known yet if Holtby will be the starter for Friday's game, but the Caps players are still looking forward to seeing him again, even if it is with another team.

"You're used to having him behind you backing you up," Lars Eller said. "It'll probably be even more weird for him since he's facing a lot of familiar faces on the other side so I'm sure he's going to be pumped up and very motivated. He was an anchor for us and a big reason why we did what we did. It'll be fun to see him again."

“He was the main reason why we been successful for a long time," Evgeny Kuznetsov said.

Holtby was drafted by the Capitals in 2008 and spent 10 seasons with the team. During that time, he compiled a 282-122-46 record with a .916 save percentage, he tied an NHL record for most wins in a single season (48), competed in the All-Star Game twice and won a Vezina Trophy in 2016. Most notably, of course, was that he was the backstop for the team's Stanley Cup championship run in 2018.

"Coming in the first series, come in and you need to be at your best and he was," Eller said. "He was able to find the best version of himself after not playing the first two games and not being the starter. That says a lot about his mental strength and able to perform under pressure."


Holtby, of course, had one of the most memorable moments of the entire run with his Game 2 save in the Stanley Cup Final on Alex Tuch that preserved Washington's one-goal lead late in the game. Now known only as "The Save," the Caps still remember that moment vividly.

"When you say Braden Holtby, it’s that save, right?" Kuznetsov said. "It’s always that picture in your eyes, right? It will be in my memory forever.”

"I think it's probably greatest save in most of the guys in the room, their careers," Dmitry Orlov said. "It's memorable and it was a Final. It's a huge save, keep us in the game."

Winning a Cup together creates a bond between teammates that is still felt by those who were with Holtby for that Cup run. While players face off against former teams and teammates every night in the NHL, Friday's game feels different because of that bond Holtby shares with the team.

"He’s good teammate and I’m happy for him that he’s still playing hockey," Kuznetsov said, "And I hope he’s enjoy it every day."