Braden Holtby Wants To Focus On The Series Instead Of His Huge Save, As If They Aren't Currently One And The Same
I not only understand, but appreciate Braden Holtby providing the perfect example of the forced humility of hockey culture by choosing to keep a forward thinking focus as opposed to reflecting back on one of his most timely and awe-inspiring displays of athleticism. That being said, I just hope he understands that even we, as a viewing audience with a historically short attention span, have yet to get over this GIF...
You see, to take a good look at the present state of this series, it is nothing short of a requirement to take time to discuss an important part of the past that will be remembered for the foreseeable future.
The fact of the matter is that only in instinctual execution did Braden Holtby desperately reach back to deny access to one puck. In theory, however, he offered a lifeline to a group of players that were stuck treading water throughout the majority of the third period. The following isn't to express even slight disbelief in a Capitals' team that has already overcome a lot throughout the postseason, but to blow a two goal lead on a late, fluky bounce only to head into overtime sans momentum in a raucous building that's home to the first playoff opponent that's been able to match their tempo could have had them heading home in quite the predicament. Maybe they would have won regardless, but managing to avoid the potential for a sudden loss that would have compounded the abrupt absence of their leading scorer was crucial given how close to a coin flip each one of these games is proving to be. To put it comparatively, the odds of digging out of an 0-2 hole against a team as unrelenting as the Golden Knights are a lot less favorable than those that the Capitals beat in bombarding the Blue Jackets.
As an observation, it's more clichéd than it is groundbreaking, but - as back-and-forth as the first two games have been - situational goaltending could very easily be the difference in this series. With all due respect to Marc-Andre Fleury, it certainly was last night. It's definitely not fair to say that Braden Holtby's well-placed paddle (or the casual killing of the two-man advantage that came before it) saved Washington's Stanley Cup hopes. However, with the availability of Evgeny Kuznetsov currently up in the air, it certainly threw a proverbial life preserver to a team that was at a clear and present risk of having to swim up the most unforgiving of stream.