Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby told the media on Friday that he is not thinking about his pending unrestricted free agency “at all” and that winning the Stanley Cup “is the only focus. Everything else is irrelevant. … One game at a time.” He said later on during the call that the “goal is to find the next-best place to win a championship. [But,] hopefully, it’s here.”
After forward T.J. Oshie’s comments yesterday about Holtby bringing his guitar to the Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto, he said that he brings a travel guitar every road trip. “It’s more about my teammates,” he added.
Holtby felt that phase two of the NHL’s return-to-play plan, small group skates, before training camps “was really good.” He thought it helped coaches and gave players more time. “We’re all feeling pretty good right now,” he said.
Holtby thinks that the first couple of games of the round-robin tournament will be a “filling out process” but good. He thought there will be “a little sloppiness [but with it being] do-or-die [off the hop] will ramp it up quickly.”
On the possibility of playing all of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup Playoff games, Holtby said that is “hopefully it’s the plan” and “reasonable.” He thought the time off will help him do that. Capitals head coach Todd Reirden told the media in June that Ilya Samsonov will play a round-robin game, but the net is Holtby’s to lose.
“We’re just really excited to play again. … I think it’s going to be very exciting,” the 30-year old goaltender said. He felt that the tournament format “will keep our minds sharp. … extremely good” format came up by NHL and players’ association.
On being away from his family, Holtby said that it is “part of my profession,” but he is “pretty much gone” during the whole Stanley Cup Playoffs in most years anyway.
Holtby thinks that the bubble in Toronto will a different experience, and games will be played under a tight schedule. “Everyone involved has done a phenomenal job making sure we’re safe,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to spend time with teammates… The interesting part is staying in hotels with [rivals].” The Capitals will be staying in the same hotel as the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins in Toronto: Hotel X.
The priority will be to follow the health and safety protocols first but will talk with players from other teams along the way.
On whether the job as the starting netminder was essential to him. Holtby said, “[I] don’t care about that,” and that winning is his top priority.
By Harrison Brown