Two summers ago, when Chris and I were driving back from Ocean City, we were talking about the upcoming hockey season, and goal tending specifically. I got really animated and frustrated during the conversation because there wasn’t a clear #1 goalie at the time. We had veteran, Jose Theodore and rookie, Simeyon Varlamov who rotated in and out of the net game in and game out. There was no consistency and it was irritating. Chris, in his ever chill way just said “It will be fine,” and dismissed me.
But then, he continued. “There’s this kid, in Hershey. He’s like 19 years old and he’s sick. Better than Theo and Varly combined.”
“Yeah, right,” I said. “If he’s so good, why don’t they bring him up now?” I demanded.
“He’s young,” Chris laughed. “He needs to stay in Hershey a while, he needs to develop.”
I remember thinking to myself, “What? Is this kid a fine wine or something? Gets better with age?” Then, I promptly forgot about it.
That next fall, Chris and I went to a hockey game in Hershey, PA to check out a minor league game and to see what players might eventually make it onto the Caps team.
“Remember that goalie I told you about last summer? That’s him,” Chris said as he pointed to Braden Holtby shuffling around on the ice before the game.
I watched the game unfold and was mesmerized by Holtby’s quick confidence, his quirks and his general style. This is a kid I could get on board with. I wanted to buy his t-shirt at the game, but guess what: Kid sells everything out. I wanted him to be on the Caps right then and there, but Chris continued to tell me to have patience and that his time would come.
When the Caps season started this year, we had another veteran, Tomas Vokoun, and a young kid named Michael Neuvirth. Great goalies in their own right, but still, no solid, starting goalie. Vokoun started the season with a less than stellar debut and when Neuvy took over after Vokoun was injured, the season was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Some things were related to goal tending, some were not. Nevertheless, I wondered where Holtby was and when it would be his turn in Washington.
Every goalie is a bit weird (I think you have to be in order to allow 100mph pucks fly at you), but Holtby has these funny tics that make him even more lovable. In the Caps world, they’re called “Holtbyisms” and I adore them.
A month ago, Neuvy went down in a heap and left the game early. Holtby was already playing backup since Vokoun was injured and he killed it. I mean, kid freaking killed it.
The next game, twitter exploded that he was starting and I just squealed with delight.
Since then, the world has been watching as Hotlby has proven himself to be a number 1 goal tender. My husband was right. He’s better than anything we’ve seen combined and I am so happy to have been a fan for almost three years as he has progressed through the Capitals system.
Last night, the Caps beat the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, and while it’s not all thanks to Holtby, he definitely contributed a lot to the team and in my opinion, a big reason they’re going to the second round of the playoffs.
So, in honor of the next round, I figured I’d share this with you:
Go Caps. :)