Capitals to Holtby: “You’re Our Guy”
Capitals fans know how hard it was to watch every game last season and seeing a team struggle defensively, placing all the weight on a young goaltender who was left out to dry on more than one occasion.
After one of, if not the most tumultous season of Braden Holtby’s career, the 24 year old Lloydminster, Saskatchewan native is looking to have a bounce back year, and new General Manager Brian MacLellan gave Holtby a vote of confidence in the offseason.
With the Capitals needing a backup goalie, they turned to former Carolina Hurricane Justin Peters, who has spent the past five seasons either backing up Cam Ward or playing in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers. Though Peters was a cheaper option than say Tomas Vokoun or Martin Brodeur, the move clearly solidifies Holtby as Washington’s number 1. Peters, a native of Blyth, Ontario had a solid season last year playing for an injury-plagued Canes team going 7-9-4 in 21 games with a 2.50 GAA.
“We want Holtby to be our guy and we want him to be supported by a good backup. Peters is a good backup in our mind and he has some upside, too. He’s 28 years old, he’s still a young guy. He’s a good teammate, he gets along with the No. 1 guys he’s played with, so we thought it was a match that way.”
After starting the season as the team’s starter, Holtby was replaced by Philip Grubbauer and ultimately rented goalie Jaroslav Halak. Holtby was forced to play back in his net more, causing him to give up costly goals on bad angle shots. But with Barry Trotz, the Capitals get goaltending coach Mitch Korn, who helped “The Dominator” Dominik Hasek win 4 Vezina Trophies and 2 Hart Trophies. Aside from Hasek, Korn has also helped tutor Pekka Rinne, Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason, and more recently Jeremy Smith.
With Trotz’ new defense-first style of play, and Korn’s superior goaltending tactics, there’s no doubt that Braden Holtby is in good hands, and he doesn’t even need Allstate. He’ll bounce back, just like the team and will lead his team back to where they belong; the Playoffs.