Bruins still can’t figure out the Braden Holtby puzzle
Death, taxes and Braden Holtby beating the Bruins.
If they could, the Bruins would petition to the league that when they square up against the Washington Capitals, Holtby is not allowed in net.
After Saturday’s 31 save performance against the Black in Gold, Holtby runs his career record against the Bruins to 12-2-0 thanks to a 3-2 victory, Washington’s second in a row.
“And then I thought Holts was really, really good. I mean, he was good,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said about Holtby. “I thought all his saves were good. The goals, I have to look at them again because there were some funky angles, but I thought he made some real key saves, and we had some good performances tonight.”
After several seasons of having issues putting any pucks past the 2016 Vezina winner, it appeared the Bruins were heading in the right direction as they were able to score six times in two games against Holtby last season. Albeit, both losses.
Hosting the Capitals at TD Garden Saturday night, their first of three against Washington this season, the Bruins hoped to finally get a ‘W’ and figure out the puzzle that Holtby is. But as usual, it was the same ol’ song and dance.
The Bruins came out flat in the opening 20 minutes. Goals from Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin combined with just seven first period shots put the Bruins in a hole.
Holtby did his part in keeping the Bruins in that hole.
“Yeah, we did. But we had a bad start and we can’t have that, especially against a team like Washington with a lot of skills, and they made us pay in the first period and it’s tough to play catch-up hockey,” said Patrice Bergeron.
With the Bruins last win over Washington coming on March 29, 2014, the Capitals have won 10 straight in the series. The last nine of those 10 have been wins by Holtby.
“When it comes to him personally, some guys just get hot against certain teams,” Bruins coach and former Caps bench boss Bruce Cassidy said Saturday morning following Boston’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena.
“They know going into the game after a while [saying] ‘wow I got a great record against them’ and they’re going in with a positive mindset. So for us, the other way, we can’t have a negative mindset going against him, and like every other goaltender that’s good – and he’s in that category – we need to make him work.”
The Bruins indeed made him work, firing 33 shots on goal. There’s no denying that the Bruins had some prime scoring chances, but as has been the case for most of his career against the Black and Gold, Holtby stood tall. His biggest saves came in the last few seconds as the Bruins tried to tie the game at three.
“We were trying to get ourselves back into it and that put a lot of those guys that play in those situations in tough spots. If we could have done a better job earlier than we wouldn’t have put ourselves in that spot,” said Torey Krug, who picked up two more assists in the loss. “But it is what it is and we had to come up bigger for our team, and unfortunately we couldn’t get that tying goal that last one but I thought we did a good job of trying to claw our way back in.”
The 28-year old Holtby had his coming out party in the opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs – a series that saw the Bruins and Capitals go seven games before Joel Ward sent the Caps onto the second round with a Game 7 overtime goal.
Holtby was dominant in that series, allowing 15 goals in seven games which included an overtime win, two overtime losses and a double overtime victory. Since then, Holtby has always been the star when the two meet up.
The Bruins will have two more chances this season to solve the Braden Holtby puzzle.