Braden Holtby was expecting to start for Hershey last night in Glens Falls, N.Y., against the Adirondack Phantoms, but then the 21-year-old Saskatchewan native found out there was a change of plans. The Capitals were going to have him join them in Montreal. So he backed up Nolan Schaefer for the Bears’ game instead and then hopped in a car for the three-hour trek.
A week ago today, Holtby was being reassigned to Hershey after his most recent recall stint that saw himwin five games with the Capitals, ending at Bell Centre with a 4-2 victory against the Canadiens.
“Kinda getting used to that,” Holtby said when asked about the unexpected nature of being a frequent call-up. “You never really know when you’re going to get the call. Just fortunate that I did and I’m just going to focus on the game tonight and put in a good performance.”
During that stretch of five wins, dating from when he stepped in for the second and third periods against Tampa Bay on March 7 to the victory in Montreal, Holtby stopped 134 of 140 shots he faced for a .957 save percentage and 1.24 goals-against average.
This will also be his second appearance on Hockey Night in Canada, the previous one coming on Jan. 22 when he made 35 saves in the Capitals’ 4-1 win over Toronto. Whether his experience with the Bell Centre from only 12 days ago will help him tonight, Holtby wasn’t sure but he did acknowledge there will be fewer nerves in general.
“Obviously I’m going to feel a bit more comfortable, just being more familiar with the surroundings and the area, but at the same time, it’s just another game,” Holtby said. “You have to approach it with the same mindset you have with wherever else you play. Just try to block out the extras as much as you can — the fans, the atmosphere, whatever -- just focus on the little things you need to do to be successful.”