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Holtby shoulders blame for loss to Rangers

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Holtby shoulders blame for loss to Rangers

NEW YORK - Braden Holtby is the first to tell you he thrives on playing every other night. But after skipping a start in Florida on Saturday and getting a day off on Sunday he refused to use inactivity as an excuse for Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

“I’ve always felt better when I’m consistently on the ice, but that’s not an excuse here,” Holtby said after five goals on 21 shots, including four on the first 10 he faced. “You adapt to what you’re dealt with and I didn’t do that well enough tonight. It’s something I’ll learn from and be better next time.”

The Capitals outshot the Rangers 34-21 and dominated them 14-2 in shots in the second period, but were trailing 4-1 just 7 minutes into the middle period.

Holtby blamed himself for Oscar Lindberg’s game-opening goal, saying he found Kevin Hayes’ shot late and kicked the rebound right to Lindberg.

He also took the blame for the Rangers’ third goal by Kevin Klein, saying he gave him too much net at which to shoot.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz did not completely absolve his goalie, either, saying he considered pulling him after two periods.

“They had four on 10 shots,” Trotz said. “When Holts is on he can get a couple of those, but we gave him some pretty good looks too and he stopped a couple of point blankers. That’s the way it goes.

“He’s one of the best goaltenders in the National Hockey League. I played him a lot (last season) and I’m going to play him a lot (this season). That’s why I let him fight through that. We debated whether to pull him after the second but he’s one of our top players and I’m going to stick with him and let him fight through it.”

The Caps’ power play twice had a chance to get them back into the game but failed both times, late in the opening period (which extended into the second) and midway through the second period. The Caps fell to 0-for-9 on the man-advantage their last four games.

“They got momentum at the end of our power play,” Trotz said. “That’s two games in a row and that’s got to stop.”

Several Caps said they liked the way they played in the second period, but acknowledged they need to tighten things up better in front of Holtby, who allowed five goals for the first time since a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the second game of the season.

“I think you look at our team and you see we can do some things very well and other things, we talk about playing the right way,” Trotz said.

“At points in the game we didn’t play the right way and got burnt by it. Holtby’s been an eraser for us many nights when we haven’t been good and (Henrik) Lundqvist has been an eraser for them when they’re not as good as they can be. That’s why goaltending is such a big part of game.” 

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.
 

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Canucks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS SCHEDULE

9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 

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What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

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USA TODAY

What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. What is his job during the game?

Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one of the rare games that featured four goalies. Braden Holtby and James Reimer started, but both were ultimately pulled in what was a high-scoring affair. In stepped Pheonix Copley and Michael Hutchinson.

And yet, despite being little more than an afterthought in the team’s preparation for the game, both Copley (one goal allowed on 19 shots, .947 save percentage) and Hutchinson (one goal allowed on 11 shots, .909 save percentage) stepped in and out-performed the starters giving both of their respective teams a chance to win the game.

“It's easier in some aspects,” Holtby said of coming into a game off the bench, something he has done at various points of his career despite being the primary starter for Washington. “I think that's why you see a lot of guys go in and have success right away and have good games because you don't have that day or two days to be getting rid of your thoughts and that kind of thing.”

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. Every team dresses two goalies on the roster for a game. One starts and one sits on the bench as the backup in case he is needed because of injury or because a coach chooses to make a goalie switch. That backup is tasked with being ready at all times to step into the game knowing full well that, if all goes according to plan, he will not get to play at all.

Holtby and Reimer had prepared for Friday’s game knowing they were going to start. Both players took warmups in order to prepare them to play a full game while Copley and Hutchinson had little reason to think they would see any action at all.

By the end of the second period, however, both Holtby and Reimer had been replaced. Copley at least had an intermission to prepare as he came on at the start of the second period while Hutchinson had to step in midway through the second period.

“I guess it can be a little challenging,” Copley said, “But I feel like as long as you’re kind of paying attention to the game and your mind's kind of in that hockey mindset then if something happens, I'll be ready to go.”

Professional athletes are creatures of habit. To have to step into a game unexpectedly with little to no warning or preparation and be expected to perform at the highest level is an incredibly tough mental challenge.

And yet, in many ways, it can be easier than starting.

“The whole thing about mental preparation is so that you go out there not thinking about anything, not worrying about any of that,” Holtby said. “When you're forced in with a matter of 30 seconds, there's no time to think about anything. You just go in and play.”

For goalies, not starting does not mean having the night off. Both coaches and teammates alike can lean upon a backup netminder as an extra set of eyes.

“Sometimes they'll ask a question like did it look like I had room there?” Copley said. “Was it a shot or missed? Did you see what happened on this play? So I just try to be there and watch.”

Some coaches even give goalies assignments in game, though that practice seems to be on the decline.

“I know [Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock] makes them look at faceoffs or something,” Holtby said. “It's pretty archaic. There's guys that do that now that are better than the backup goalie at looking at things.”

In truth, there is no defined in-game requirements for most goalies in the NHL when they sit as backups and that is true of the Caps’ tandem. That makes the job of a backup a very simple one.

“I just try and be ready if I have to go in,” Copley said. “Make sure I'm physically and mentally ready and be a good teammate.”

Holtby put it even more succinctly as he said, “Don't do anything stupid.”