Tag: Boston Bruins

Braden Holtby

Holtby blanks Bruins, Capitals grab East’s top wild card spot


Goaltending was a big reason why the Boston Bruins came into Sunday on a hot streak, but Braden Holtby showed that the Washington Capitals boast an outstanding netminder, too.

Holtby stopped all 32 Bruins shots as Washington won 2-0 tonight, securing the top wild card spot for the Capitals. They now have a two-point lead over Boston for that position and enjoy a healthy margin against the East’s bubble teams.

Holtby is impressing if you look at things from a short-term perspective:

… Yet he’s had a great season overall, too, as he now has eight shutouts and 33 wins in 2014-15.

Now, let’s not forget that Tuukka Rask was strong in his own right, as you can see most obviously from this sprawling stop:

Holtby obviously stole the show, though, as Washington’s two goals were clearly enough for the win. (Nicklas Backstrom collected two assists, setting a new Capitals franchise record for that stat.)

It wasn’t a perfect game in every way for the Capitals, as Alex Ovechkin experienced this, um, uncomfortable moment:

Still, he seems OK, and winning a big game probably helps to soothe that pain a bit.

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins, Capitals will break Wild Card tie tonight

Carl Soderberg, Andre Burakovsky

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Washington Capitals host the Boston Bruins at the Verizon Center at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

It wasn’t too long ago that Boston’s playoff position looked vulnerable, but after five straight victories, the Bruins have not only managed to stay six points ahead of the similarly streaking Florida Panthers, but also catch up to the Washington Capitals in the fight for the first Wild Card spot.

“I think we believe in ourselves right now,” said Patrice Bergeron, per the team’s website. “Since the trade deadline, I think it put a lot of guys at ease, kind of realizing that this is our team. The management — from up to Peter [Chiarelli] to Cam [Neely] and everyone down — they all believe in us, and we have to show them that we can do it.

“It’s about doing it every night. Right now, we all need to be leaders and step up and play big.”

Both Washington and Boston have 82 points this season and are equal when it comes to regulation plus overtime wins (33), but the Bruins have a slim edge right now given that they’ve played in one less game. Regardless, the occupant of the first Wild Card seed Monday morning will be the winner of this contest.

In addition to the obvious positioning advantage that would come with a victory tonight, Washington could also use the confidence boost that comes with winning. It has lost three of its last four games and attracted the ire of Capitals coach Barry Trotz.

“Right now we have too many passengers,” Trotz told CSN Washington. “You can’t carry a guy on your back. This league is way too good. If there’s a guy next to you not pulling his weight you can’t carry him. You either get rid of him or give him a shake and tell him to get on the bus and start traveling in the right direction. That’s probably why [the players] had a closed-door meeting, because I told them to fix it.”

The Capitals realize their game has slipped lately and they’re position has been compromised as a result. The silver lining for them is that their fate is still in their hands.

Could Dan Ellis be the next out-of-nowhere sensation?

Dallas Stars v Florida Panthers

If there’s a building goaltending narrative in 2014-15, it’s been about netminders unexpectedly redeeming themselves or almost appearing out of the blue.

Devan Dubnyk went from a wayward soul last season to a possible Vezina nominee for the Minnesota Wild. The New York Rangers somehow didn’t miss a beat when Cam Talbot took over for Henrik Lundqvist. The question in Ottawa went from “Who is Andrew Hammond?” to “How do we beat him?”

It’s pretty early to add the man who was the Florida Panthers’ third goalie to the mix, but Dan Ellis certainly made a case that he should be in the argument with another strong performance Saturday.

Ellis stopped all 27 Carolina Hurricanes shots to grab a 2-0 win for Florida. He’s now currently on a three-game winning streak (and is 3-0-1 since taking over) after spending most of his year in the AHL.

Ellis, 34, comes into this situation in a fittingly weird way, as Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured in the same odd game.

He doesn’t fit into the story of many others who were virtually unproven – Ellis now has 208 regular season games under his belt – yet the league soured enough on him that he wasn’t offered one of 60 NHL goaltending jobs to start 2014-15.

The Panthers still face a very, very long shot to get into the postseason, especially as Tuukka Rask really builds back into “totally worth $7 million” form.

If nothing else, it’s a cool story that follows an interesting pattern, though.