Between Braden Holtby is bent for the first two games of the Washington Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff Run, and the crazy stretch of hockey Marc-Andre Fleury plays, it may be hard to remember how insanely good Hotlby has
So let's get into some dominance.
The regular season 2017-18 was not Holtby's best in NHL – statistically, it was actually his worst. Holtby's .905 save percent was the lowest of his eight-year career, down 15 points from when Holtby won Vezina in 2016 and 18 points from the .925 mark he wrote a year ago when he finished second in the Vezina poll. Things became so bad for Holtby as he admitted that the crew would back up Philipp Grubauer, who was between the pipes for Game 1
But about 105 minutes into that series were the capitals 1-0 and down in the match 2, 4-3. Head coach Barry Trotz made the change in the third period of this game, went back to Holtby, and while the capitals lost in overtime, Holtby stopped 7-out of 8 shots in his relief game and then 130 out of 139 shots he met in matches 3 to 6 for to lead the capitals to a comeback victory over Columbus.
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And that's the kind of course for Holtby, which entered 2018 playoffs had a career .932 postseason save percent. During this current run, which helps the Capitals reach a place they have failed to do since 1998, Holtby has a .924 save percent but later postes consecutive shutouts in Games 6 and 7 against Tampa Bay Lighting to help Washington win the Eastern Conference finals.
But this is nothing new to Holtby. For goaltenders that have appeared for at least 50 career in the Stanley Cup match, Holtby's career is .930 save-percent the second highest of all time, followed only by former Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. While the capitals have struggled to get over the second round in Holtby's employment in Washington, the only one that has been consistently strong to win and points from Alex Ovechkin . But much like his dynamic, offensive-minded teammates, great Holtby performances have also been for nothing thanks to some early playoffs.
I promise you I've never seen anything like this on a #Caps exercise. Without standing room only the crowd at Kettler Iceplex loses their minds like Braden Holtby takes the ice. pic.twitter.com/fz4nnI5l5s
– Brian McNally (@ bmcnally14) May 26, 2018
2015 Holtby stopped 389 of the 412 shots he saw in Capitals 13 playoff games just to run in in New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist in the second round. In that series, Holtby had a .945 save percentage, which allowed two or fewer goals in five of the seven games in that series. But Lundqvist was a bit better (literally the smallest margin) with a .946 save percent, including stopping 35 out of 36 in a make-or-die game 7, Rangers took 2-1 in overtime (Holtby turned 37 or 39) .
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It was a good margin for Holtby who, like Ovechkin, has been solidly good at the playoff but has had a bounce here or there goes against him and kept one of the best full-time playoff practitioners in his position to deepen and chase a Stanley Cup.
And of course this season, especially Holtby's playoff utilization, has been talked less and less because he started the afterseason on the bench and because one of his former divisions, Fleury, has been so good. In Vegas 15, Fleury has a .947 saving percent, which, if the playoff ended today, would be the highest full-time rating in a single playoff run for a goalkeeper who appeared in at least 15 matches. (If you lower the playing threshold to 10, which includes many more Holtby playoff appearances, it appears a few times on the list, eighth, 12, and 29).