Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Braden Holtby gets the start for Capitals

At about 4:00 yesterday afternoon I checked my Google Reader to see if there were any last minute posts/reports I wanted to read. I subscribe to a couple dozen Caps/Bears related blogs/sites so I am generally up to date on information and news.

Yesterday there was nothing out of the ordinary at 4:00. Cool.

At just before 7:30 I turned on the NBC Sports Network (it was much easier to type Versus by the way) to watch the Caps/Sharks game. I stepped out of the room for a minute so I missed all of the introductions and pregame chatter that typically goes on. Meaning I missed the comparison of starting goaltenders. Last I heard, Michal Neuvirth was starting in goal for the Caps.

I came back in a few minutes later and saw the Caps goalie make a save. Wait, was that #70 in goal? But that’s Braden Holtby’s number…he was called up?

Yes, that is correct. The Washington Capitals coaching staff feels so confident in Neuvirth right now that instead of asking him to play back to back games they recalled Holtby and asked him to play his 3rd game in 4 days…in 3 different states.

The coaching staff said that since Neuvy hadn’t played back to back games this season they didn’t want to ask him to do it now.

Obviously that can’t really be the reason…could it? Nope, apparently the Caps coaching staff just likes to deceive players. You want proof…try these TWO from Capitals Insider:

And then the real reason (maybe) was given (from Capital Insider):
“It’s one of those things that if he was standing on his head every night, would Braden be playing? No,” Hunter said. “It’s always judged by how you play.”
Sounds fair.  If you aren't playing well then you should be benched...just ask Ovechkin.  Just to be sure though, let's see Neuvy's numbers recently:
Over his past four starts, which stretched over the 11 games prior to Monday’s tilt, Neuvirth went 1-2-1 including a shutout but stopped 113 of the 123 shots he faced for a .918 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average during that span.
Doesn't look that bad to me.  But ok, let's give the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt and see what else we can find...oh wait, here you go:
No one told Michal Neuvirth he wasn’t starting Monday night against the San Jose Sharks. When Neuvirth arrived at Verizon Center, he found out he wasn’t playing. Instead, Braden Holtby would make his first NHL appearance of the year.
Wow. Classy.

I am convinced that Dale Hunter is about as lost in this job as Joel Rechlicz is when he gets 3rd period ice time.

Speaking of Joel….he was recalled too. And he played.

That’s right. Mike Knuble and Keith Aucoin were both healthy scratches so that Joel Rechlicz could get 2 shifts, 1:30 of ice time, and a 10 minute misconduct penalty. Yes, I didn’t see it but apparently Joel got a 10 minute misconduct penalty from the bench.

As I have said before…the guy is nothing if not efficient.

But why would Hunter bench Knuble for yet another game? (also from Capitals Insider) Let’s see:

“He will [get back in] eventually … it’s always who plays the best and who doesn’t play well,” Hunter said. “We watch tape and bring new faces in.”
Ok, fair enough. Wait, you say you watch tape and yet you recalled and played Joel Rechlicz…for the 2nd time this season?


Don’t get me wrong. I understand that Joel brings a certain element to the game, but the Caps need more offense right now…not more confused bodies.

Can anyone honestly tell me that they think Dale Hunter has any clue what he is doing?

In 2007 the Caps fired Glen Hanlon. In 2011 the Caps fired Bruce Boudreau. Now Dale Hunter is the coach and he is on a 1 year deal. Considering how the Caps are playing right now all signs point to a new coach for 2012-13.

Three coaches…4+ years…similar results.

Maybe it is time to look at the players on the ice instead of the guy behind the bench.

As luck would have it the trade deadline is approaching. Fast. February 27th.

A couple of days ago Ted Leonsis, Caps owner, basically said that the team would be active at the deadline.

So was Braden’s appearance in the game last night REALLY because of Neuvirth or was there another reason: (from John Feinstein of the Washington Post)

That’s why it probably wasn’t an accident that there were no fewer than 12 scouts in the building on Monday — including Montreal Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier. It probably wasn’t an accident that the Caps decided to call up talented 22-year-old goalie Braden Holtby on the spur of the moment for a spot start.
Personally I don’t buy the whole Neuvy couldn’t start back to back games crap. I agree with what Feinstein is hinting at and think the Caps are trying to figure out which goalie they want to keep.

Both Neuvy and Holtby are likely would garner significant attention at the deadline…if they are made available. Teams need goalies and both of these guys are young and talented. Remember, just last summer the Caps sent Semyon Varlamov to the Avs for a small ransom in return.

Teams pay (a lot) for good young goalies.


Debb said...

I love your blog..and I see where you are going with the caps coach. I totally agree..but whats with the Recker comments???I know there is really not a spot for the guy in the NHL but..I wanted to ask you a question. Do they tell him what to do when he is played? I mean..do you think that they just cut him loose on the ice..or is their a preset agenda?? Just wanted to know your take on it. I am such a Recker fan that I have trouble with the latest comments from everywhere about where he is and what he does..I think he is paid for a job that he does verrry well if they would just let him...Reck someone..Not that many toe to toe fights right now. I understand they need players that score because of the time of the year..But I think he really serves a purpose..THanks

Anonymous said...

I am with you Debb, Wrecked is a fan favorite brings to the game a great heart for protecting his teamates. He needs more ice time,and he is a great promoter.Will get better,in time,just like that new basketball player. You have to have a love for the game.