Through two games and less than four full periods of play, Braden Holtby has allowed eight goals on 45 shots — a disappointing start but one that hasn’t shaken the confidence of his teammates.
Holtby read the game-winning shot incorrectly in the season opener against the Blackhawks, but he also turned away breakaway attempts by both Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp to keep the Capitals in the contest. While he didn’t appear as poised as usual against the Flames, there was little he could do to prevent Lee Stempniak’s tally, and he didn’t see Jiri Hudler shot on the power play.
Holtby remains the Capitals main option in net, though, as evidenced by Coach Adam Oates’s decision to go back to him for Saturday’s game in Dallas. Oates told Holtby he would face the Stars before the dust settled on Thursday night’s home opener. Oates isn’t the only one comfortable going back to Holtby after the goaltender was pulled before the end of the first period against Calgary.
“I’ve got nothing but confidence in him,” Jason Chimera said. “We’re not worried about that.”
The 24-year-old netminder said that during training camp and the preseason he has worked with goaltending coach Olie Kolzig to make some tweaks to his game. They’re changes in his footwork and positioning – nothing that is fundamentally altering his style, but adjustments that take time nonetheless.
“I think any changes you make that you haven’t used your whole life take a little bit of work,” Holtby said. “It’s not drastic changes just a little bit of positioning, a little bit of making it so I have a better chance of staying under control in scramble situations and better chance to make saves — the saves you’re not supposed to make –- the cross crease and backdoor and whatnot [by] trying to position your feet in different ways. It’s just one of those things that when you start to struggle you go back to your old ways and get in even more trouble.”
Holtby is in the middle stage between new habits and old ones, the key is reaching the point where the adjustments become his natural instinct.
“I think the first two games,” Holtby said, “I was thinking a bit too much about what I was doing positionally and not thinking about the basics of the game as much as I should have.”
Until he reaches that point, Holtby wants to makes sure he studies his mistakes and find a way to resolve those problems.
“It’s been a bit of a learning curve this camp,” Holtby said. “Trying to change a few things and [seeing] those goals [scored against] are what is going to make those changes easier to see what you can do better, what you did good or whatever and to make sure it doesn’t happen on a consistent basis.”