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Posted at 12:37 PM ET, 04/09/2012

Can Braden Holtby give Caps a Cup-caliber performance?

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS | Tomas Vokoun was signed this past summer to shore up the Capitals’ goaltending and to provide a steady, veteran presence in net for the stretch run. He then suffered a groin injury in last week’s 3-2 victory over Boston and has not played since, with no timetable for his return.

The baton was then passed to Michael Neuvirth, who left the Capitals’ game against the Florida Panthers in the second period after Florida forward Marco Sturm fell awkwardly on his knee. However, the Capitals recalled Dany Sabourin from Hershey, so it doesn’t appear Neuvirth is ready to go just yet.

That leaves Braden Holtby, Washington’s fourth-round pick in the 2008 NHL draft, to shoulder responsibilities in net for Washington during the first round against the Bruins. Only four other netminders — Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Cam Ward and Antti Niemi — have led their team to the Stanley Cup as a rookie. Will Holtby be the fifth?

Some believe Holtby has the talent, having gone 10-2-2 (including 7-0-1 against opponents who made the playoffs that year) last season with a 1.79 goals against average while posting a 0.934 save percentage. To win a Cup, a team has historically needed a netminder capable of putting up a .925 save percentage over 600 shots, which most NHL goalies can provide. But how likely is Holtby to do it?

Holtby has played 21 games at the NHL level, saving 487 of 524 shots for a save percentage of .929. Observed talent is not actual talent, so we can estimate with 95 percent confidence his “true talent” level is between .903 and .949. The huge spread is because of the small sample size of his career, which illustrates that we just don’t know how good Holtby will or won’t be at the NHL level. Since the 1997-98 season, rookie goaltenders in the playoffs have posted a .912 save percentage. Using these values, here are Holtby’s chances at providing a Cup-caliber performance.

No pressure, kid.

Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg | Caps scoring chances

More on the Capitals:
Poll: Capitals or Bruins?
On Hockey: Caps have reason for optimism
Twitter list of who to follow for the first round
Complete first-round playoff schedule

By Neil Greenberg  |  12:37 PM ET, 04/09/2012

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