The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals combined for just 32 shots on goal in the Rangers’ 3-1 victory on Saturday. Braden Holtby was never asked to stop more than six shots in a single period. Which, as it turns out, might have been part of the problem for Holtby.
He admitted after the game that facing just 14 shots on goal made it difficult for him to remain focused. Keep in mind, that the Boston Bruins managed at least 29 shots on goal in each of their seven first-round contests.
The Washington netminder can’t be completely blamed for this loss, but there was certainly room for improvement. Some of those goals looked preventable on his end, even if his teammates could have also done more on those plays.
It would be inaccurate to say that Holtby needs to win this series all by himself if the Capitals are to advance. Washington’s defense, while not flawless, shouldn’t be underestimated. Similarly, Holtby didn’t defeat the Boston Bruins on his own, but he was a star in that series. It might be unfair to ask of a rookie goaltender, but the Capitals need him to be a star again.
He wasn’t terrible in Game 1, but he certainly didn’t emerge as a hero – and now the New York Rangers are up 1-0.