Regardless of the circumstance of any goal, Braden Holtby will take the blame for it. At times, his self criticism is warranted, but in other instances it is out of place when it’s clear that his teammates didn’t offer the best support for their netminder.
Situations of the second variety, though, are irrelevant to Holtby. The 22-year-old goaltender never looks to put blame on his teammates, regardless of what happened in the play leading up to a tally.
“It’s probably one of those things I learned from a young age,” Holtby said. “To put more blame on myself than anyone else, because as a goalie your job is to make up for your teammates mistakes. You can’t be mad if they make them, that’s your job and it’s hard sometimes.”
Holtby’s attitude in that regard is one of the reasons that even at such a young age, with limited NHL experience, he has earned the respect of his teammates. Players take note when a netminder doesn’t bark at them after a missed assignment, flubbed pass or turnover.
“You see a lot of goalies, when they get scored on throw their hands in the air, looking around seeing who’s to blame,” Jason Chimera said. “He’s not that kind of guy, most of the shots he thinks he can save — even the screened ones and stuff like that — he thinks he has a chance to save it.”
In addition to gaining respect with his approach, Holtby’s take on his responsibilities and the role of a goaltender has made his teammates want to work harder in front of him.
“He knows he’s got a tough job and the puck stops there but he blames himself,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “If we give up a breakaway he’s blaming himself, if we made three mistakes before that — but that’s the kind of kid he is. That’s why the guys want to play so hard in front of him.”
When the Capitals block shots in front of them, Holtby taps them on the pads and offers words of encouragement. While he absorbs the blame for the pucks that wind up behind him no matter how they got there, he just as consistently attributes his success to the efforts of his teammates.
“That means a lot; he’s a good kid, he works hard and you want to block shots for a guy like that,” Chimera said. “You want to help him out as much as possible and that’s what you see in the playoffs, guys are just diving in front of pucks to help him out.”
More on the Capitals:
— Backstrom channels his inner Forsberg
— On Hockey: Caps make their own breaks
— Sources: No discipline for Ovechkin
— Caps dominate on blocked shots
— Boswell: Caps buying in to Hunter