Although Barry Trotz did not shed any light on Team Canada’s plan for rotating its trio of goaltenders at the World Cup, the Capitals coach believes Braden Holtby will grow from the experience, regardless of the number of starts he receives.
Trotz noted the high concentration of talent on each of the eight teams, the pressure of playing for Canada and the opportunity to learn from—and potentially push—a couple of the game's best goalies.
“Anytime that you get to be in [international] tournaments, be around the high level of competition, the high level of talent, it can only help you,” said Trotz, who will serve as an assistant coach for Canada. “I think Braden is only scratching the surface of what he’s capable of doing.”
Canada’s roster features Holtby, Montreal’s Carey Price and Chicago’s Corey Crawford. Holtby, of course, is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. Price, however, has the most international experience of the three, while Crawford has backstopped the Blackhawks to a pair of Stanley Cups.
“All three of those goaltenders will push each other and get to learn from each other,” Trotz said.
Trotz said he recently bumped into Price and was surprised by how much the Canadiens’ star knew about Holtby’s game.
“He knew a lot about Braden, his style and how he played before and how he’s playing now,” Trotz said. “I think [the three netminders] are very, very acute to their position of goal.”
Trotz said Canada’s head coach, Mike Babcock, will ultimately determine which goalie starts on which night. Even if Babcock opts to lean heavily on Price, though, there figures to be an opportunity in the preliminary round when Canada faces Team USA on Sept. 20 and Team Europe on Sept. 21.
“I know we have a back-to-back and I don’t know what’s going to happen there,” Trotz said. “It’s three days into it, and I don’t know if Carey will get both or not. He’s coming back from an injury, and Braden is coming back from an injury from last year. So we haven’t really talked about that yet, in terms of who’s playing goal.”
While the rotation remains a mystery, Trotz reiterated that he’s sure of this much: however much playing time Holtby gets in Toronto, the 26-year-old will return with more experience and knowledge from which he can draw.
“Anytime you get to represent your country at the world championships, the Olympics, in any form, there’s a different set of feelings,” Trotz said. “It’s a different sort of animal that you engage with when you go into the international forum. You get to play against the best players in the world representing their country. And they’re very passionate about where they come from.”
“It’s totally different,” he continued. “It’s not the All-Star game or anything like that. It is serious and it is high-level competition. It is a great platform for Braden to experience and [use] to get better. You talk about pressure when you’re in a single-game elimination? Those things help. Those things help when you’re playing against the elite players from other countries and in the league.”
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