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Braden Holtby Still Seeking Answers To Goaltending Woes
By ZAC BOYER | firstname.lastname@example.org
ARLINGTON – There have been games in the past where Braden Holtby has allowed only one or two goals when making plenty of mistakes.
But Holtby, stuck in what he considers one of the biggest ruts of his career, believes he is making the right reads and decisions despite his lack of results.
Expected to start the year as the Washington Capitals’ top goaltender, Holtby’s 4.52 goals against average is the worst in the league and his .862 save percentage ranks second to only Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff for that distinction.
As the Capitals (2-6-1) enter Tuesday’s game against Toronto at Verizon Center, Holtby, who as of Monday didn’t know if he’d be in net, is looking for answers. Michal Neuvirth was in net on Thursday when the Capitals lost to the Maple Leafs, 3-2, on the road.
“It’s hard not to get frustrated,” Holtby said Monday. “I don’t remember any stretch in my whole career where so many goals have been going in, and honestly, so many goals that I feel I’ve played them right. It’s a weird time, but I’m a believer in the process and everything equals out.”
Holtby, 23, relies heavily upon routine and superstition for his focus, which can be trying when success isn’t coming. He had 20 saves on 26 shots on Sunday in the Capitals’ 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh, with all but two at even strength.
Several of the goals he has allowed have come when he’s been screened or on deflections, and he worked on stopping the puck with traffic in front of the net for a portion of Monday’s practice.
His concern at this point is adjusting his positioning and his strategy too much, which could potentially leave him vulnerable in other ways down the road.
“But that’s the way goaltending works sometimes,” Holtby said. “I’m still breaking down every shot, every puck handle and every goal, and we’re trying to seeing what we can do better and what’s bad luck.”
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