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Did Capitals find a goalie in playoff run?

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Did Capitals find a goalie in playoff run?

NEW YORK - The Capitals will face their fair share of questions now that their season has come to an abrupt end, but one of the most convincing answers came with the emergence of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby.

The 22-year-old native of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan proved to be unflappable during his first foray into the Stanley Cup playoffs, ranking fourth among playoff starters in goals-against 1.95 and save percentage .935.

Holts was tremendous, Capitals center Brooks Laich said. Weve said it all along. He got caught up in a numbers game this year. Youre told when youre a kid that if youre a player theyll find you and if you keep working youll get your chance and I think weve got a great one there in Holts.

Holtby said his greatest regret is not seeing the Capitals achieve what he believes they were capable of accomplishing.

Obviously, its a disappointing, he said. We really did believe in here we had the team to do it all. When you look at it we gave ourselves a great chance. Its a tough loss, but what we can take out of it is that New York was a very good team and we didnt leave anything on the table.

Holtbys emergence was as unlikely as it was impressive. He was recalled by the Caps on March 17 as an injury replacement for Tomas Vokoun, then was named the starter when Michal Neuvirth was injured in the next-to-last game of the season.

You gotta give him credit, Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. He played under extreme pressure. He had to go up against Tim Thomas, a Stanley Cup winner and Henrik Lundqvist, who could be MVP of the league. He battled them tooth and nail. Im proud of him.

And he did so while becoming a father two days before Game 7 of the conference semifinals.

It certainly helped his cause and put his name on the map, Mike Knuble said of Holtbys playoff run. Were all very proud of the way he played. Hes juggling a lot coming in here. To be able to give us a chance to win every night, he did that and you cant say enough about a goalie who does that.

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.

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Date for Capitals home opener, banner raising announced and it's not against the Pittsburgh Penguins

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Date for Capitals home opener, banner raising announced and it's not against the Pittsburgh Penguins

Just before the Caps turn the page on their Stanley Cup championship season and open a new campaign, they will raise a championship banner to the rafters of Capital One Arena in the home opener. We now have a date for that banner raising.

The Capitals' home opener will be on Oct. 3, but if you were hoping Washington would raise the banner against the Pittsburgh Penguins, you're going to be disappointed.

Instead, the Boston Bruins will be the Caps' first opponent at Capital One Arena for the 2018-19 season.

The Capitals opened the 2016-17 season in Pittsburgh when the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner from 2016. That was rubbing salt in the wound as not only are the Penguins Washington's biggest rival, they also eliminated the Caps in the second round of the 2016 playoffs en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

The fact that the Caps had to endure that banner raising led to speculation that the NHL schedule makers would perhaps return the favor and bring the Penguins to Washington as the Caps prepare to raise their first championship banner.

Alas, that was not the case. It's totally understandable though. The Penguins need that night off so they can prepare for their home opener on Oct. 4...against the Capitals.

It is not typical that the NHL forces teams to play their rivals in a home opener during a banner raising ceremony and it should be noted that the Caps were not in Pittsburgh for the Penguins' 2017 home opener after Pittsburgh's second straight Stanley Cup. The 2016-17 season appears to be little more than a coincidence.

Still, having the Caps play in Pittsburgh the very next night seems like an odd quirk.

Seeing the Caps raise the Stanley Cup banner on Oct. 3 will be no less sweet without the Penguins in attendance. But it would have been nice.

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