He outplayed Tim Thomas in the opening round, and won a Game 7 on the road in Boston. For those critics of Washington Capitals Coach Dale Hunter, it was Holtby's .940 save percentage, rather than anything Hunter did systematically, that propelled the Capitals into a second-round series against the New York Rangers.
A series that began with Holtby posting a .786 save percentage in a 3-1 loss on Saturday. He only faced 18 shots, which Holtby said made it "a tough game to stay into it, mentally-wise." Holtby also blamed the dim lighting in Madison Square Garden for his rough performance.
In Tuesday night's Game 2, Holtby will have Jeff Schultz back on the defense corps in front of him, pairing with the mistake-prone Dennis Wideman. He'll also have some history on his side.
Braden Holtby's NHL resume is not the most extensive, but it is worth noting he has gone 24 straight NHL starts without losing consecutive games.
"I didn't even know how many it is," Holtby said after Monday's morning skate at Madison Square Garden.
"Maybe the key is to keep a level head through the highs and lows. Never having two bad games in a row is the key to consistency and I want to have a solid performance."
Holtby rebounded with wins after all three losses in the Boston series, stopping 118 of 121 shots for a .975 save percentage.
The Capitals could use that kind of "stopper" effort in Game 2, especially with the Rangers eager to bring more of an attack against him. Via the Washington Post:
New York's main focus will be putting more shots on Capitals rookie goalie Braden Holtby — without opening up too much and taking risks. The Rangers notched just 14 shots on goal in Game 1.
"We know we have to be better getting shots to the net, getting bodies there and creating opportunities," Ryan Callahan said. "It's a fine line. You don't want to take chances against this team and leave yourselves with a [counterattack], because they've got some skilled guys who can capitalize on it."
One skilled guy, Alex Ovechkin, is looking to find another gear in Game 2.
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