Washington Capitals Need Braden Holtby To Avoid Slow Start

Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had the most impressive season of his young NHL career last season. From about December 1st onward, he was one of the best goalies in the NHL. However, it’s worth noting that the Washington Capitals franchise goalie has proven that he can be prone to slow starts at the beginning of the season. It’s a trend that Holtby must focus on ending in 2015.

MORE FROM STARS AND STICKS: Holtby Is Among The NHL’s Elite Goaltenders

During the 2012-2013 season, Holtby played in 43 games and quietly finished in the top 10 in even strength save percentage (92.77%). However, in his first ten games of the season, he had a less than impressive 90.76% even strength save percentage. This was largely due to a lower than usual high danger save percentage (75.44%), compared to his 84.66% high danger save percentage over the whole season. 

During the 2013-2014 season, Holtby had an even strength save percentage of 92.95%. However, during the first ten games, Holtby had an even strength save percentage of 91.27%. Again, it was largely due to a low high danger save percentage of 77.19% (it wound up being 83.87% over the whole season).

Even during the 2014-2015 season, the best of his career, he struggled in his first 10 games. In his first 10 games, he had an even strength save percentage of 90.43%. He ended the season with a 92.94% save percentage. From November 9th onward (including the postseason), he had a 93.47% even strength save percentage. 

As you can see, the Washington Capitals goalie has a bit of trouble getting things started in the regular season. However, once Holtby gets going, he’s about as close to a brick wall as you’re going to find. In 2015, Holtby will need to avoid his usual slow start for several reasons.

First of all, the Metropolitan Division will be very competitive in 2015. The Washington Capitals cannot afford to have a slow start. Much of what the Washington Capitals do revolves around Holtby, so if he can have a strong start to the season as opposed to a slow start, that’s officially beneficial for the team.

Secondly, the Washington Capitals will most likely be without star center Nicklas Backstrom for the beginning of the season. That means that Holtby will have to be strong in net if the Capitals want to avoid a slow start. A slow start could doom the Caps since the Penguins, Blue Jackets, Rangers and Islanders all figure to be very good. Playing catch up could be difficult.

If Holtby can avoid his slow start, the Capitals have a very good chance of winning the Metropolitan Division.