Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 11/19/14

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals warms up before playing the New York Rangers on February 4, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


Goaltender Braden Holtby -- the Capitals' third option between the pipes -- has stepped up in a big way for the Washington Capitals thus far this postseason.

When Florida Panthers forward Marco Sturm fell on Washington Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth as Neuvirth was in the butterfly position Apr. 5, every Capitals fan in the world held their collective breath. Neuvirth appeared to suffer a knee injury on the play, and trainers had to come on to the ice to attend to Neuvirth and then assist him to the dressing room.

With Tomas Vokoun already out with a groin injury, the Capitals had to turn to Braden Holtby. But with the playoffs beginning just a week later, and with Holtby having zero games of NHL playoff experience, everyone got that much more nervous about the Capitals' postseason.

Now, just two games into the Capitals' first round series with the Boston Bruins, Holtby has become the name on every analyst's lips. It's because of his surprising performance, one that has kept the Capitals in every game, both of which have gone to overtime partly due to Holtby's work in the net. The buzzword surrounding Holtby's hype is "confidence."

A Calder Cup winner in 2010, Holtby isn't new to the playoffs in general, but facing the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins in a first round matchup isn't exactly what Holtby's used to. But he's stepped up to the challenge, stopping 72 of 74 shots in the first two games of the series, which is now split 1-1.

Holtby's confidence is spreading to his teammates, who are impressed, but not surprised by Holtby's comfort in the net despite being thrown into this postseason situation.

"Holtby's unbelievable right now," Marcus Johansson said. "There's nothing you can complain about his him, his game."

"(Holtby's) so calm back there, it's very impressive to see," said Nicklas Backstrom, who scored the double-overtime winner in Game 2. "He's 22, so it's very impressive to see him out there. He brings his calmness, such a good confidence too, I think. If he keeps playing like this we're going to help him as much as we can and take care of our chances when we get them."

The Capitals have helped Holtby by blocking 49 shots so far in the series and providing strong defensive play. Roman Hamrlik, who in part stymied the Capitals as part of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 playoffs by blocking shots, is up to his old antics, leading the team with nine blocked shots.

As for shots that have made it to the net, Holtby now has a 0.83 GAA and .973 save percentage in over 144 minutes of play in the first two games, putting him in first place among all goaltenders in both categories in this year's playoffs.

"He's a battler. He's got confidence," coach Dale Hunter said. "And he's going out there battling like the rest of the team is going out there battling. And that's a good thing."

Capitals goaltending coach Dave Prior also has every belief that Holtby can carry the Capitals in the playoffs. "My approach with him is I don't want him overconfident; I don't want him doubting himself. I want him to go in there believing he is capable, just as he has been capable in his NHL wins," Prior said.

"There is no reason for me or Braden to even think he can't win these games."

Photo credit: Getty Images

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Report: Angels, Rangers talking Josh Hamilton trade

Roger Goodell calls both Los Angeles stadium plans 'viable'

Five-star hoops star Malik Newman commits to Miss State

Crabtree on joining Raiders: 'Ain't got nothing to lose'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Hardy gets in 'verbal altercation' with teammate

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

Report: Chris Sale wanted to fight Yordano Ventura

NFL does not care about Rams' future in St. Louis

Eagles VP Ed Marynowitz says he's not Chip Kelly's 'yes man'

Jonathan Papelbon wants out of Philadelphia

5 most boring NFL prime time matchups for 2015

Steve Carell, Emma Stone to star in Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King film

Calipari’s new project: Create virtual reality experience for fans

Maurice Jones-Drew will retire with the Jaguars on Tuesday

Ovechkin jokes about taking a chair from Nassau Coliseum

Uniform colors have already been picked for Vegas NHL team

Golden State: Not losing to New Orleans, but still snoozing

Ventura, Royals need to simmer down before someone gets hurt

The Mets and their weak opponents

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

Nothing gleams like late-round draft gold

The Ultimate All-Living MLB Team

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

5 boring NFL prime time matchups

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: Perception vs. reality

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

NFL does not care about Rams' future in St. Louis

Nothing gleams like late-round draft gold

The Ultimate All-Living MLB Team

Dubs wanted to gain momentum for Game 4 ... then won

Teams who need to ace the NFL Draft

10 bold predictions for the NFL Draft

Ten things you need to know about Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

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

Company Info
Help
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.