Sitting at his locker Wednesday, following a practice for which he was first on the ice, Holtby balanced the lessons learned from an early benching with the understanding that, in the moment, the long skate off the ice benefitted the Capitals.
“In a situation like that, it’s a lot, I wouldn’t say easier, but you understand it more,” Holtby said. “You know it’s coming. That’s the reason for it. I didn’t do my job well enough. Switch something up. It’s tougher when you feel like it’s not justified and you’d like to keep battling through. I’d like to stay in every game, but there’s a point in time where the team goal’s the bigger thing. You take it like a man and move on.”
Offering further consolation was the film review, which reminded Washington’s coaching staff how tough San Jose’s first two goals were for Holtby to save.
“It breaks down to if you’re lucky to find a sight line somehow,” Holtby said. “I just didn’t see both of the shots. On video it’s hard to tell where I should’ve looked to see it. Sometimes when you prepare better, when you see, feel better through the screens, the puck seems to hit you in the right places. That’s what I have to work on more.”
It was the third goal, a clean glove-side rocket from San Jose winger John Scott, that Holtby wanted back. The Capitals were down 2-0, and Scott’s tally tumbled them into intermission with a three-goal deficit. Several skaters crashed in the crease after Scott scored, sending Holtby sliding into the net, then into the boards, hunched over as his night ended. Peters replaced him once the Sharks finished celebrating.
“It was one of the games where I wasn’t real happy with how I looked out there,” Holtby said. “I felt fine in preparing, whatnot. I was a little too prepared for them to come out hard. I was telling myself to be too patient. I didn’t want to get out of control and have them expose my start and it kind of backfired on me. It’s just one of those games you have to trust your preparation to be the same.”
Redemption could be offered immediately, should Trotz tab Holtby to start Thursday vs. unbeaten New Jersey, which has scored 13 goals in three games. Peters helped keep the Capitals afloat once he entered, which Holtby praised.
“When you trust in a coach that way, you know it’s never personal,” Holtby said. “It’s because you didn’t do your job well enough. No one to blame but yourself. One of those beauties of being a goalie.”