Found April 10, 2012 on Sportaholics Anonymous:
Losing Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth to injury was the best thing to happen to the Washington Capitals.

Because now Braden Holtby is their starting goalie for the playoffs.

Braden Holtby may have 659 fewer regular season starts than Tomas Vokoun, and 87 fewer than Michal Neuvirth.  And he has never started a playoff game in his brief NHL career.  But even though Holtby does not possess the career resume of either of his two teammates from the Czech Republic, neither of them possess the skills and personality of the 22 year old native of Saskatchewan.

Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth cope with the pressure of a big game.  But their passiveness leaves them vulnerable to becoming rattled when the game begins to turn against them.  And in the playoffs, there are many moments like these, often occurring in the same game.

Braden Holtby craves the pressure of a big game.  His assertiveness serves him well when the game begins to turn against him, and he keeps it from spinning out of control.  Against the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, he will be under a constant barrage from a veteran playoff team.  This ability will keep him in a comfort zone even when the Bruins try to make him uncomfortable.

And Holtby possesses other skills and traits that will prove to be advantageous in the playoffs.

Braden loves to play the puck, and is actually quite skilled with the goalie stick.  This skill will help diffuse the Bruins offense as they dump the puck into the Capitals zone and attempt to set up their forecheck.  And when Holtby intercepts the puck, his passing ability can then ignite the Capitals offense.

Braden is also very aggressive in net.  His willingness to challenge shooters will also help lessen the effect of the Bruins forecheck, which will undoubtedly create turnovers and scoring opportunities.

But most importantly, Braden Holtby is fiercely protective of his goal.   He doesn't like anything in his crease, whether it's made of hard rubber or human flesh.  This quality will be very important against the Boston Bruins, who send plenty of both at the opponent's goalie.  In fact, Holtby's feistiness may surprise the Bruins, who will expect a young, inexperienced goalie to be timid in his first playoff appearance.  And Holtby's refusal to back down from confrontation will inspire a physical but undersized Capitals team that needs every player to stand up to the Big Bad Black.

With all these skills and qualities, Braden Holtby will lead the Washington Capitals to success in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs - and beyond.

Braden Holtby Likely to Start Game 1, as Tomas Vokoun, Michal Neuvirth Both Battling Injury Bug

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals are preparing yet again to go with an inexperienced goalie in the playoffs. This time, they can't do much about it. Neither Tomas Vokoun nor Michal Neuvirth was able to practice Monday, leaving Braden Holtby looking more and more like the starter for Thursday's Game 1 against the Boston Bruins. "We've done it before, and...

Neuvirth returns to Capitals practice

Washington Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth is uncertain whether he'll be able to play in the first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins. Neuvirth returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since injuring his left leg last week, but he wasn't able to stay on the ice for the entire session. Asked if he thinks he'll play against Boston, he said: '...

He's not Gabby: No-nonsense Hunter leads Capitals

Dale Hunter is not Gabby. That goes without saying. Literally. After four playoff runs with a coach who would talk your ear off, the Washington Capitals enter this postseason with a leader who keeps his answers short, gives his assistants more authority and saves his speeches for when he really needs them. ''You definitely don't get sick of hearing him talk - because...

Here's Your Daily "Alexander Ovechkin Is A Douchebag" Reminder

This may be the douchiest rap video I've ever seen. I'm sure EVERYONE has seen this rap video, but holy ****. Ovechkin is just bouncing up and down in a black wifebeater like your typical ****** white guy at a club. The other Russian dude dresses like a complete *******, sounds like a complete ******* and I find it strange that there's no Russian word for "super...

Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom Combo Gives Dale Hunter Options, Which Could Give Bruins Headaches

Editor's note: The Washington Post and are teaming up for an NHL playoffs edition of Across Enemy Lines. Doug Flynn answered the Post's Bruins questions, and Tarik El-Bashir answered our Capitals questions. Below are Tarik's answers. Playoff hockey is back, and it returns to TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night as the Bruins continue their Stanley Cup defense...

Dale Hunter Has Put Own Stamp on Capitals With Approach Claude Julien Knows Well from Days Playing Together

WILMNGTON, Mass. -- In recent years, the Washington Capitals have enjoyed stellar regular seasons, but haven't been able to match that success in the playoffs. This year, things were a little different. Washington didn't secure a postseason spot until the final days of the season, and comes in as the seventh seed in the eight-team field in the Eastern Conference. There'...

Paroled by Playoff Puck

For me, Saturday afternoon and evening finally delivered long elusive fun at being a hockey fan in Washington, at the very end of the regular season. For me, fun with hockey is when the present and near future offer promise. This hockey season, that didn’t arrive much before the 81st game of the season. My blogger chum Ed Frankovic late Saturday night summed it up perfectly for...

Capitals, Bruins looking for more goals

Offense was the overriding theme at practice Friday, a day after the Bruins outlasted the Washington Capitals, 1-0, in Game 1 of their first round, Eastern Conference series. Surprise, surprise. After all, both goaltenders - Boston's Tim Thomas and Washington's Braden Holtby - stood out in the opener, and the teams combined for 37 blocked shots, as well. It was a defensive...

Nicklas Backstrom's Return Provides Capitals With Confidence to Beat Bruins (Video)

The Bruins still have a few days to prepare for their first round series with the Washington Capitals. And they may need the time to stategize after going 1-3-0 against the Capitals this season. The Capitals struggled mightily early on in the year but made a strong push towards the end of the season to lock up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Alex Ovechkin has had his...

Practice: Apr. 10

The Washington Capitals were on ice Tuesday morning for a practice as they continue to prepare to meet the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex: Michal Neuvirth returned to the ice as a participant in practice, skating both before the session and during it.  Despite being able to practice, Neuvirth does not believe that he will be ready...

Boston Bruins v Washington Capitals

The NHL Playoffs have arrived. The CS staff is pleased to present you with a preview , a couple of keys to the series, and Sean Keenan’s prediction of the winner and MVP of each series Boston starts it’s cup defense at home against a Washington team that had a rough regular season. Boston was up and down this year, and Tim Thomas didn’t exactly put up Vezina numbers, but with...

Bruins-Capitals Regular Season Series

As the Washington Capitals and the Northeast Division Champion Boston Bruins are gearing up to face each other in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals this Thursday (April 12th), let's take a look back at the regular season series between the two teams.  Washington Capitals Record vs. Boston Bruins: 3-1  vs.#2                                       ...

Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg Crucial to Containing Alex Ovechkin, Capitals Offense in Playoffs (Podcast)

Alex Ovechkin has had statistically his worst season since first entering the NHL in 2005. Bruins sophomore forward Tyler Seguin actually tallied more points (Seguin 67, Ovechkin 65) than the two-time Hart trophy winner (MVP) this season. But don't be fooled by the underwhelming numbers, Ovechkin remains one of the most dominant and fear-inducing forwards in all of hockey. Boston...

Bruins-Capitals Series Notes

Early playoff exits for the Capitals over the past several seasons means they haven't built up the playoff rivalries some other teams have.  But just because Dale Hunter was still playing for the Caps the last time they faced the Bruins in the playoffs doesn't mean these two teams don't have a lot of familiarity with each other.  Beyond the four regular season games...

Capitals-Bruins Preview

At one end of the ice, playoff MVP Tim Thomas will be in goal for the defending champion Boston Bruins. At the other end, Braden Holtby will make his NHL playoff debut in the Washington Capitals' net. That should give Boston a big advantage in Thursday night's playoff opener. It also could be a trap if the Bruins are overconfident. ''Timmy's a great goalie...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.