I can’t tell from the replays if the game winning goal by the Bruins’ Chris Kelly on Thursday night deflected off Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman’s stick or not, but the TSN announcer in the video embedded below thinks the mere presence of that stick didn’t make things easy on Holtby, though he says the Caps’ goalie still needs to save that shot.
“That stick in front of it by Dennis Wideman is never easy for a goalie. You hear Don Cherry talk about it a lot. A goalie’s got to have this shot, no doubt about it, and Kelly more than anything else absolutely rips it off the far side. Wideman’s reaching for it and so was the goalie Holtby, and a beautiful performance by this youngster, a gutty performance, is ruined by an excellent goal by Chris Kelly.”
“Ruined” feels a bit harsh because there’s a lot the Caps and Holtby can build on after a game like that, despite the game winning goal, but I agree that Holtby put in a great performance, especially for his first playoff appearance. Not a bad night for a 22 year old who sits third on the Caps goaltending depth chart and spent most of the season in the AHL. I also liked the way the Caps players approached Holtby on the ice at the end of the game, showing their support and, what appeared to be, their approval of his play.
Speaking on NBC Sports Network prior to last night’s game, hockey analyst Keith Jones boldly said of Holtby, “If I was Dale Hunter, I would have been starting him with both goaltenders Vokoun & Neuvirth healthy.”
For more Holtby-related reading, check out this post on “The Dynamic Entity” by Justin Goldman (@thegoalieguild), who has been calling Holtby a Top-5 prospect for almost 2 years. Goldman also tweeted about Holtby last night: “Size + quickness + confident demeanor = future starter. Tons of solid traits, especially his biomechanics. Good passer. Plays loud & proud.”
We’ll see how things play out for Holtby as the series continues. It was only one game, but it was impressive, despite what may or may not have been a soft game winning goal.
By the way, Greg over at Days of Y’Orr warned us about Chris Kelly going into this series.
Between now and Thursday, when the Caps-Bruins series kicks off, we’ll be bringing different features to have you all geared up for Game 1. Bruins bloggers ‘Days of Y’Orr‘ were kind enough to answer our questions about their team and we did the same for them. Below are their answers to our questions. You can find our answers to their questions about the Caps here.
1) Other than the obvious choices (the headline players), what player should Caps fans be most wary of going into the series?
Chris Kelly or Rich Peverley. The fun thing for Capitals fans will be that they can watch these guy potentially play on the same line together. Here’s a couple reasons for each player:
Chris Kelly is playing for a contract so that usually motivates a player to play better. He also scored 20 goals this year, which is the first time in his career that he’s done that. Kelly is also second among Bruins’ forwards in terms of short handed time on ice, only behind Mr. Selke himself Patrice Bergeron by a second (in SH TOI per game). Actually, since I have the stones, I would say that Chris Kelly is a carbon copy of Patrice Bergeron this season. He can kill penalties, he plays on the power play and he’s a great two way forward.
Rich Peverley is a wildcard here. He’s a couple weeks removed from a knee-to-knee hit by Hal Gill that left him on the sidelines for 6 weeks. Normally, Peverley plays on the power play and fits well in Claude’s defensive scheme. He uses his speed along the outside to move the puck and start rushes. He can score, he can kill penalties.
2) What player are Caps fans most likely to hate after the series?
Brad Marchand. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. I would expect to see one of your players slew-footed by Marchand and his unusually long honker at least once. The thing is, Marchand is a pest. And no, I don’t mean the Matt Cooke type of pest where if you’re not paying attention, you’re getting an elbow to the temple. He’s an old school pest. What’s even worse? He backs it up. Marchand scored 28 goals this season, so not only will he frustrate you with his antics, he’ll frustrate you on the ice.
3) Going into the last day of the season, what team were you hoping to face given the potential opponents? Why or why not the Caps?
Honestly? The Ottawa Senators for the sheer fact that Boston has owned Ottawa this season. Boston is 5-1 against Ottawa with Tim Thomas posting a 4-1 record, a 2.41 GAA and a SV% of .932. In short, Thomas has made Ottawa his bitch and it would’ve been nice to see guys like Lucic and Seguin clown Erik Karlsson so people will stop talking about Mike Green V 2.0 as a Norris Trophy candidate. Ah well, I guess we’ll have to see the Rangers take them to task.
I don’t mind the Bruins facing the Caps. The only thing I’m worried about is that they’ve seemed to hit a hot streak as of late….but then I look at their goaltender and I know all is right with the world.
4) Why do you think the Caps have matched up so well against the Bruins this year?
They usually play down to their competition.
5) Tyler Seguin seemed to take a significant step forward in the regular season this year, do you anticipate the same in the playoffs?
Absolutely. The kid was 1 goal away from 30 and last year’s playoffs was really his coming out party. I expect the Bruins second line of Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin to really do some damage against Washington.
6) Is Tim Thomas still pissed from when Matt Hendricks broke his hip in the shootout? Does he always fall like that when he goes to the locker room?
Thomas is fine. I spoke with him a few days ago about the Hendricks shootout goal and Thomas stated that as a free citizen, Hendricks has the right to score in the shootout and Tim Thomas was not going to oppress him by stopping the puck. Then Thomas posted from stuff on Facebook.
7) Repeat, yes or no?
I’m going to say no, just because it’s hard as hell to do. Should all 4 top seeds win out, Boston then goes on the face Florida and the winner of the Rangers/Penguins and that’s a series that can really beat a team down. I wouldn’t say Boston has the upper hand, but if they go through Washington and then Florida and have to face either a Rangers team that had to go through Pittsburgh or a Pittsburgh team that had to go through Philly AND New York, than it looks like the easier path.
I’m not sure how they would fare against the West though. The one game they played St. Louis, they hung in it. Vancouver seems to know how to beat the Bruins, as shown in their January 7th game at the Garden. It’ll be tough, starting with Washington. It’s the playoffs, nothing’s guaranteed.