Tuesday March 15, 2011 1:59 am
Braden Holtby earns NHL First Star honors
Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was named NHL First Star for the week ending March 13. It was the first honor the young netminder has received in his short NHL career, and he couldn’t have been more deserving. Called into action on short notice, Holtby put up a 4-0-0 record on the week with a 1.05 goals against average and .965 save percentage. He beat Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Anaheim’s Corey Perry, who were named second and third stars.
Not only was Holtby amazingly consistent, but he also recorded his first NHL shutout, blanking the Edmonton Oilers 5-0 last Wednesday night. In all, Holtby has only played in 12 NHL games. He’s served much of the season as a third-string goaltender, behind Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov, but after a puck to the mask knocked Neuvirth out of a game against the Lightning on Mar. 7, Holtby was thrown into action and has run with it.
Neuvirth has been solid in net for Washington all season, and he won’t be out much longer, but the sophomore goalie may already see the next in line emerging. In his 12 games so far, Holtby has put together an 8-2-2 record, which is very impressive and certainly gives Bruce Boudreau some options for the playoff stretch, as the Capitals are pretty much guaranteed a berth and Boudreau may want to rest up his primary goaltenders before Washington being their first-round series.
Holtby’s emergence also gives options to General Manager George McPhee, who may decide to use either of his young star goalies as trade bait. If he can convince another GM who needs a goalie that either Holtby or Neuvirth would be a fit with another team, he could demand a decent price in return. This, of course, depends on how well either of them holds up for the remainder of this season. Another early exit from the playoffs could spell disaster for the entire Capitals organization.
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