After their recent shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, I had grumbled about the performance of Braden Holtby in shootouts. He just lost another shootout to the last place New Jersey Devils.
Holtby is a normally elite goalie, as he typically has a save percentage north of .920 and is ranked seventh in the NHL in overall save percentage. But the recent shootout losses have made me wonder about his effectiveness in shootouts. So, I figured it was time to examine Holtby’s record in shootouts.
This article will focus on his performance throughout his career, looking at each individual season, from the most recent to earliest. A chart for each season’s results is shown below, showing the date, the opponent, the goalie for the Caps, an indicator on whether the Caps won or lost, the number of rounds, and a general comment that indicates what happened in the first three rounds and any later rounds, where relevant. Holtby wins are highlighted in green while Holtby losses are highlighted in blue.
As of this writing, the Washington Capitals have played in four games that needed to be decided in a shootout and have compiled a record of 1-4.
As can be seen from the chart, Philipp Grubauer was in goal for their only shootout win this year while Holtby was in goal for all four of the shootout losses. In the first three losses, one shooter out of the first three would convert for both the Caps and their opponent. Also, the opponent’s fourth shooter would shoot successfully to win the game for them, while the Caps’ fourth shooter would fail to score. In their most recent loss to New Jersey, both Caps’ shooters failed while both of New Jersey’s shooters converted.
Last season, the Caps were 4-2 in shootouts.
When examining this chart in greater detail, Holtby was in goal for three shootout wins and two shootout losses. Grubauer was in goal for the other shootout game, which was a win. In the first shootout, against the Maple Leafs, Holtby was able to stop all shots in the shootout, with the Caps winning it in the fourth round. In the other two wins by Holtby (against New Jersey and Anaheim), he gave up one goal to each of the three opposing shooters. The Caps won those two games since two of their three shooters shot successfully. In both of their shootout losses (against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers), two of the opposing shooters converted successfully but the Caps would manage only one goal (Columbus) and fail to score. (Philadelphia). The only game in which Holtby stopped all shots was in the game against Toronto on November 7, 2015.
In the 2014-15 season, the Caps were 5-4 in shootouts.
In looking at the chart more closely, Holtby was involved in six of the shootout games and was 3-3 in them. He was the loser in the first three but the winner in the last three. In the first loss, against Montreal, he had stopped the first three shooters, but gave up the game winner in the fourth round. The second loss for him was the infamous 20 round shootout against the Florida Panthers. In that one, he had stopped the first three shots but he had given up goals in five later rounds when the Caps had also converted. He ended up giving up the game winning shot in Round 20. In the loss against Edmonton, he gave up one goal in the first three rounds but ended up giving up the game winner in the fourth round. In both his wins against the New York Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres, he stopped all three opposing shooters while the Caps had scored at least once in those two games. In his win in Montreal, he stopped all opposing shooters as the team won in four rounds. In this particular season, Holtby was successful at shootouts during the latter part of the season. In two of three early season losses, he had stopped the first three shooters but lost in a later round. Overall, for the year, he had three wins where he stopped all shots and two losses where he had stopped all shots in the first three rounds.
In that season, the Caps were 10-11 in shootouts.
As most Caps fans recall, this was the year of the “Three Headed Monster” in goal where Holtby, Michal Neuvirth, and rookie Philipp Grubauer all served in the crease for the Adam Oates Era Capitals. The trading deadline trade of Neuvirth for Jaroslav Halak added one more individual to the mix. Hence, Holtby did not play in as many games and, by extension, play in as many shootouts. Holtby posted a 6-1 record in the shootout games where he played. In his first game, against the Calgary Flames, both teams converted once during the first three rounds. He stopped the shooters in the next two rounds and the Caps won in Round 5. In the games against the Minnesota Wild and the Detroit Red Wings, he stopped all three shots against them, and won them both because one Caps player was successful. In the game against the Montreal Canadiens, both teams converted twice in the first three rounds. He stopped the shot in the fourth round while a Caps player converted successfully, to give him the win. In the same against San Jose, he stopped two shots out of the three Sharks shooters while the Caps scored two shootout goals. In the last game, against the Islanders, he stopped all three shooters. In summary, he stopped all shooters in three of his six wins and there was another win where he had stopped the first three shooters.
That season, the Caps were 3-0 in shootouts.
This was the post lockout season where teams played just over half the number of games as was normal for an NHL schedule. Holtby was in goal for all three games. In the latter two of those games, Holtby stopped all opposing shots.
That season, the Caps were 4-4 in shootouts. However, Holtby was in goal for only one of those games, hence, no chart was provided. The only game where he was involved in a shootout was a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on March 22, 2012. This game was a four-round shootout. In the first three rounds, both teams scored one goal. The Flyers won the game with a goal in the fourth round.
That season, the Caps were 5-6 in shootouts. Since Holtby appeared in only one of those games, no chart was provided here, either. Holtby’s appearance was against the New York Rangers on January 12, 2011. The game ended in a four-round shootout. In the first three rounds, two of the shooters for each team converted. The Rangers won that game with a goal in the fourth round.
His overall career record in shootouts is 15-12 but he appears to be very streaky. The last game where he had stopped all opposing shooters was on November 7, 2015 when he stopped Toronto. He has lost his last four shootout games, dating back from March 30, 2016.
For his career, he has nine wins where he stopped all opposing shots, plus another win where he had stopped all opposing shots but gave up a goal in later rounds and two losses where he had stopped all shots in the first three rounds only to lose in a later round.
By Diane Doyle