Caps Coach Barry Trotz says he’s confident Braden Holtby will rebound from a Game 1 performance that the goalie found to be lacking.
“I thought he was fine but he didn’t think he played as good as he could,” Trotz said. “But I do know this—and I’ve told you this—he is a guy that responds.”
On Friday morning, Holtby was among the first players on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex—and he quickly got to work with goalie coach Mitch Korn.
In Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Penguins, Holtby allowed three goals on 21 shots, including a pair on the first seven shots he faced.
Why is Trotz so confident that Holtby will rebound? Because history says he will.
Holtby has generally responded with a strong individual performance after losses in the playoffs. In fact, he’s posted a .933 save percentage, 1.92 goals against and two shutouts in postseason games following a loss.
“He’s going to be better tomorrow, and that’s good for us,” Trotz said.
Holtby’s Game 1 performance comes on the heels of an uneven first round for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. Against Toronto, he yielded 14 goals in the first four games before locking down the Leafs in Games 5 and 6, stopping 61 of 63 shots to lead the Caps to the second round.
On Thursday night, Holtby got off to a strong start, turning back an early blitz by the Pens, including a point blank pad stop on Patric Hornqvist to keep the game scoreless. Holtby also made a critical breakaway stop on Phil Kessel–and the ensuing rebound attempt by Bryan Rust—as the Caps scrambled just after falling behind 2-0.
Overall, though, Holtby felt he could have been sharper. In particular, he said he did not like Sidney Crosby’s first goal or his execution on Nick Bonino’s third period shot that slipped between his blocker and side.
After the game, Holtby vowed that both he and the Caps would be ready for Game 2 on Saturday night.
“I don’t think we’re frustrated,” Holtby said. “We realize that we played a really strong game. I know I need to be better if we’re going to have success, and that’s basically the bottom line.”
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