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Braden Holtby recently went through the worst stretch of his career, losing six straight decisions (0-4-2) while having a 0.851 save percentage in the process. He also a dreadful outing against the Anaheim Ducks last night where he got pulled 5:37 into the second frame after giving up three goals on nine shots in the Capitals‘ 4-0 loss at Honda Center. Those stats are certainly non-Holtby like, which makes us ask when his struggles began? NoVa Caps takes a look at where Holtby’s struggles first began.
|April (Regular Season)||2||1||0||0.961||1.13||1|
Holtby was strong for most of the campaign in 2016-17 but his numbers seem to start to see a decline in December 2016. His goals-against average in March was his highest during a month of the 2016-17 season and he gave up four goals in three consecutive contests (March 6-12), which was probably a big part of that. Holtby was pretty solid the rest of the regular season going above a save percentage mark of .915 in all of the rest.
Holtby had a slow start to the Toronto series, giving up four goals in each of Games 2-4 (.907 save percentage) in the series but rebounded nicely by stopping 61 out of 63 shots (.968 save percentage) in Games 5 and 6, which boosted his save percentage significantly.
The Pittsburgh series was a mess for Holtby. The Penguins tortured Sergei Bobrovsky, Holtby, Craig Anderson, and Pekka Rinne with their quality shooting percentage throughout the playoffs when they were outshot for the most part. This is when Holtby’s numbers started to drag down. He gave up 10 goals on 83 shots in the first four games of the series (0.879 save percentage) before stopping 62 of 68 shots (0.912 save percentage) in games 5-7 of the series.
|December||9 (league lead)||2||0||0.915||2.67|
Holtby got off to a strong start in 2017-18 with a 0.921 save percentage through November. Since then, he has a 0.892 save percentage and a 3.38 goals against average. Some of that has to do with a shaky defense in front of him but he still needs to be better despite a hole on the blueline. February was especially torturous for him as you can see above. He went through a career-long six-game dry spell and had a .851 save percentage in February. Holtby got pulled three times in the month and only won two games during the course of the month (both against the Columbus Blue Jackets).
Holtby may be going through a rough stretch right now but he will bounce back like the back-to-back Vezina Trophy finalist has always done after a tough stretch. There are still 16 games remaining in the season so Holtby needs to figure out how to stop his slump now or else it could be another very long summer for Holtby and the Capitals.
By Harrison Brown