Braden Holtby has coped with the spotlight, high-pressure games and leading a team through the first two rounds of the playoffs over the past four weeks. Now, in addition to all that, he’ll get to add the role of new dad to the list.
Holtby and his fiancée, Brandi Bodnar, welcomed baby boy Benjamin Hunter Holtby to the world on Thursday. On Friday, the Capitals’ rookie netminder was his calm and composed self as he readied for Game 7 against the New York Rangers.
“It was a great day. Mom and baby are doing great, but now I’m focusing on hockey,” said Holtby, who added that the excitement of being a first-time father wouldn’t be a distraction. “Circumstances are different, but it’s still the same game. It’s still hockey. The main thing you learn when you turn professional is to separate personal life from hockey, and that’s what we’re gonna do here.”
Holtby said that birth of his first child made him “definitely more nervous” than he will be for Game 7 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. There’s no question, though, that the 22-year-old goaltender remains firmly focused on his next task on the ice.
His continued composure throughout the postseason and even now with the birth of his son, is why Holtby’s teammates are not at all worried about his ability to stay in the moment in an elimination game.
“You know it’s a big moment for him but I think it’s going to give him more motivation,” Alex Ovechkin said. “I think right now he’s probably happiest guy in the world. The way he play, what happen in his personal life it’s great and we’re going to help him and we’re going to support him.”
Said Troy Brouwer: “If he was going to be distracted he was going to be distracted in Game 7 of the first round with all the hype around that series. I think he’s proved himself, he’s able to shrug off these big distractions. He’s been able to put those things aside and play well on big stages.”