Braden Holtby Has to be More Consistent for the Capitals

Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

The Washington Capitals need goaltender Braden Holtby to play well once the 2019-20 NHL season resumes.

The Capitals are after their second Stanley Cup in three years but this team has plenty of questions to answer. Braden Holtby’s play has been an issue at times and they won’t go back in the playoffs unless he makes a significant leap forward.

The NHL suspended the regular season on March 11th because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Capitals were barely hanging on to first place in the Metropolitan Division after going just 4-3-3 in their last 10 games. The Capitals have a one-point lead over the red hot Flyers and the Penguins are just four points behind them. Washington suffered a 3-2 shootout loss against Buffalo in their last game but Holtby had 24 saves.

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Holtby Has to be More Consistent

Goaltending was a question mark for the Capitals even before the start of the season. Holtby is entering the final year of a five-year contract and he might be after a raise for next year. Can the Capitals afford him? This might be his final season with the team. Highly touted prospect Ilya Samsonov made the team and having another talented goaltender ready to go put additional pressure on Holtby.

Braden Holtby has been inconsistent this season. Holtby does have an .897 save percentage in 48 games but he’s had many ups and downs. The former Vezina winner and Stanley Cup champion has been responsible for many of his team’s wins but he has also cost them some games.

Samsonov even started some games after Holtby went 1-4 to start the season. This included the three goals on the first three shots he allowed against the Avalanche on October 14th. He then went 10-1 in his next 11 starts and his save percentage went below .900 just once. The 30-year-old played well until December. In one game the Bruins scored four goals on 11 shots and beat the Capitals 7-3 on December 23rd. He then had six starts with a save percentage below .900.

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 09: Goalie Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

Holtby Still has Room for Improvement

While he hasn’t cost games to the Capitals since February, Holtby’s results haven’t been the best. The rollercoaster season has continued and this can actually be traced back to 2017. Philipp Grubauer took over for Holtby at the end of the regular season in 2018 and at the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He finished the season with a .903 save percentage (his career-worst at the time) and last year’s .911 save percentage was just above league average.

Odds to Win the Stanley Cup

Let’s take a look at the odds available at BetOnline for top contenders to win the Stanley Cup:

  • Boston Bruins +600
  • Colorado Avalanche +700
  • Tampa Bay Lightning +700
  • Vegas Golden Knights +700
  • Philadelphia Flyers +800
  • St. Louis Blues +1000
  • Washington Capitals +1400
  • Pittsburgh Penguins +1500
  • Dallas Stars +1800
  • Nashville Predators +1800
  • Toronto Maple Leafs +1800
  • Edmonton Oilers +2000
  • Vancouver Canucks +3300
  • Calgary Flames +4000
  • Carolina Hurricanes +4000
  • Arizona Coyotes +5000
  • Minnesota Wild +5000
  • Winnipeg Jets +6000
  • Florida Panthers +6600
  • New York Islanders +6600
  • New York Rangers +6600
  • Columbus Blue Jackets +10000
  • Chicago Blackhawks +25000
  • Montreal Canadiens +100000
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When Holtby is at his best, very few goalkeepers can match him but when he struggles he makes people wonder if he should still be the starter for the Capitals. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is Holtby’s last season. The Capitals are at +1400 to win the Stanley Cup at BetOnline and they need Holtby to step up if they want to go far in the playoffs.