Braden Holtby (Lloydminster Blazers, AJHL) of the Washington Capitals is putting together a season that looks an awful lot like one we saw last season, one of the best ever statistically by a goaltender.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price swept the NHL awards, winning the Hart, Vezina, Ted Lindsay and Jennings trophies, leading the League in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933). This season, Holtby has 24 wins and an almost-identical 1.92 GAA and .932 save percentage.
Somehow, Holtby hasn't been getting much attention this season, which he doesn't care about since he keeps doing his thing, helping the Capitals pile up wins and points. Holtby is 25-4-2 having allowed 61 goals in 32 games. He's allowed two goals or fewer in 24 of 32 starts. He was named the NHL's second star of the month in December, going 9-0-1 with a 1.69 GAA, .947 save percentage and one shutout in 11 appearances. Holtby hasn't lost in regulation since Nov. 10, a span of 19 starts (17-0-2).
Holtby had a breakout season in 2014-15, going 41-20-10 with nine shutouts, a 2.22 GAA and a .923 save percentage in a League-leading 73 games. He has the most wins since the start of last season (65) and is tied for second with 11 shutouts. More importantly, the Capitals have the most points in the League, which means Holtby expects the best every night from his opponents.
“It's a good spot to be in. Teams challenge us every night,” Holtby told Monumental Network after making 25 saves in a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. “We've been in that position where we have played those top teams during the regular season, and you always get up a little more for that because you want to test yourself. That's good for us. It means we can't back off at all and it tests our game every night.”
The midway point of the 2015-16 season is fast approaching, so consider Holtby my pick for midseason goalie MVP. He's the class of his position. The rest of our staff picks will be released Friday at 12 p.m. ET on NHL.com.