One of the most talked about elements of the Bruins-Capitals first round matchup has been the outstanding play of Washington’s rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. Is this 22-year-old netminder, who for the Bruins has been a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, for real or has the Bruins offense just vanished?
Of Holtby’s five starts in this series, he’s played lights out in three of the five games; his only unpolished performance was a 4-3 loss in Game 3. After tonight his .946 save percentage, has him ranked second among goalies that have played in every postseason game and he’s sporting a 1.86 goals against average which is sixth in the league. Holtby’s strongest performance came in Game 4 when he stopped 44 of 45 shots and helped Washington even up the series with a 2-1 victory at the Verizon Center.
When asked whether Boston or Holby was the reasoning for the lack of offense, Bruins’ forward Daniel Paille responded, “I think it’s a bit of both. He’s obviously played a solid game and he’s very confident in catching the gloves and making those saves. In the same sense we need to pay a price, it’s been there at times but not throughout the full game so we should be… better effort on our part.”
The Bruins, who averaged 3.17 goals per game during the regular season, have scored just one goal in three of the five games this series. Boston, who thrives on garbage goals and collecting rebounds, has been unable to consistently do so against Washington. Granted a lot of Boston’s shots have hit Holtby square in the chest and then been vacuumed up by the Capital goalie, but as Paille pointed out, there have been chances. Unfortunately, for most of this series, Boston hasn’t been able to pounce on loose pucks for those second and third chances which were their bread and butter during the regular season.
It seemed as if Boston had figured out a way to beat Holtby in Game 5. Trailing 2-1 in the second period, Boston started to throw bodies in front of the Washington goalie and crashed the net more, which resulted in Brad Marchand tying the game at 2-2 with just 2:11 remaining in the period. The Bruins went into the dressing rooms with confidence knowing that they had finally drawn blood.
Former Bruin and now Washington Capital forward, Mike Knuble gave Washington a 3-2 lead when he scored on a rebound, an art he perfected during his time with Boston. The Bruins would go on the power play with 12:31 remaining in the third, as former Bruin defenseman and whipping boy, Dennis Wideman, would take a two minute minor for cross checking. Johnny Boychuk would knot the game at 3-3, when he scored on a bomb from the point. With just 2:50 left in the third period Benoit Pouliot of the Bruins would get whistled for slashing that would eventually lead to a Troy Brouwer power play goal with just 1:27 left in the game. Washington would take a 4-3 victory in Game 5 and a 3-2 series lead.
When asked about Holtby and how he has been playing Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara replied, “He’s playing really well for them. We finally found a way to score some goals on him but he’s playing really strong.”
The Bruins will look to stave off elimination and force a Game 7, tomorrow afternoon, in Washington. Chara simply put that tomorrow the Bruins need to “play to win.”