|Who needs experience? Braden Holtby is up for the challenge||04.12.12 at 2:57 pm ET|
If all went according to plan, Braden Holtby wouldn’t have had an enormous media scrum surrounding him at TD Garden Thursday morning. If all went according to plan, he wouldn’t have even been there.
But that’s the hand the Capitals were dealt. First, starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been dealing with groin issues this season and aggravated the injury on March 29 against the Bruins. Then backup Michal Neuvirth suffered a lower-body injury when Panthers forward Marco Sturm fell on him on April 5.
All of this resulted in 22-year-old Holtby, the starting goaltender for Hershey in the AHL, getting the call to be the No. 1 for the Capitals as Washington opens the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Bruins.
“The whole reason I’m here is injuries, and that’s unfortunate, but that was my job coming into the year as the third guy in Hershey, to be here to step up when there are injuries,” Holtby said Thursday. “Unfortunately, they’re at this time of year, but it’s my job to [make up for] those unfortunate parts. I know both of them want to be on the ice, so I’m trying to take the team with me, to bring them up.”
He’s never been in the postseason before, and the fact that he’s untested in the playoffs is made worse by the circumstances. He’s facing the Bruins, who had an NHL-best 81 goals last postseason and averaged 3.24 goals per game in the playoffs. The Bruins’ 3.2 goals per game in the recently concluded regular season ranked second in the league.
“It’s a great challenge,” Holtby said. “You have to get through everyone to make it to the Stanley Cup. Everyone’s talking about the Bruins and the Rangers. Well, you’re going to have to play either of them or both of them. If it’s Boston right now, we’re up to the challenge.”
In 40 games in the AHL this season, Holtby had a 2.61 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. Those AHL marks are actually worse than Tim Thomas‘ NHL numbers this season, making it tough to compare the two net minders. That’s fine for Holtby, as he says he doesn’t look at games and feel he’s going against the opposing goaltender. Of course, he wouldn’t mind having Thomas’ success a year after Thomas had four shutouts in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run and won the Conn Smythe.
“He’s obviously a battler, and that’s the reason he’s been so good,” he said. “It’s great to see a guy like that, that goes off of pure heart and determination and has been successful. It’s great and I respect the guy obviously a lot, but that goes out the window. I just want to win games right not.”
The fact that he’s even playing games right now wasn’t something the Capitals had been planning on entering the season, but Holtby has the opportunity to surprise a lot of people this postseason.
|Four in a row: Bruins tame Panthers in shootout||02.13.10 at 9:59 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins played a sleepy game on Saturday in Sunrise but were able to take two points from the Panthers with a 3-2 shootout win. Mark Recchi was the hero for the Bruins in the eighth round of the shootout. Tuukka Rask took the win for his fourth consecutive victory with 26 saves while Tomas Vokoun was the loser for the Panthers with 37 stops.
Mark Recchi tied the game at two in the second half of the third period when he deflected a Dennis Wideman shot passed Vokoun.
The Panthers took the early lead when Nick Tarnasky scored his first of the year at 10:12 in the first period after he was left alone in front of Rask on a rebound. Boston came back when David Krejci scored his 11th of the year at 15:54 when he threw the puck on Vokoun from the corner that beat the net-minder through the legs to tie the game at one.
The lead did not last as Stephen Weiss flew through the neutral zone and put an inside-out move on Zdeno Chara to burn the Bruins captain and knock down Rask’s door with with a wrist shot at 18:54 in the first period.
Mark Recchi — The veteran forward played in his 1550th game to move into ninth on the all-time list and tied the game with his ninth power play goal of the year (team high) in the third period. He had the game-deciding goal in the shootout.
Dennis Wideman — The Bruins defenseman had two assists on the night to give him 19 for the season
Stephen Weiss — The Panthers leading scorer had the best looking goal of the game when he burned through Chara in the first period.
The Bruins went on their first power play of the game at the 9:44 in the third period and made the Panthers pay. Recchi camped in front of Vokoun and was rewarded when he redirected a Wideman shot from the top of the right circle to tie the game at 11:44.
The Bruins and Panthers went back and forth in the shootout that went to sudden death eight rounds. Recchi proved to be the hero again when he deposited the puck top-shelf over Vokoun’s shoulders for the game-deciding goal. Krejci and Marc Savard scored in the shootout for the Bruins to keep the Bruins alive. David Booth and Kamil Kreps tallied for the Panthers.
|Panthers lead B’s after first||at 7:50 pm ET|
The Bruins are in Sunrise, Florida and may have left their game at the beach as they trail for the first time on their four game road trip after the first period. Boston is skating well enough but the urgency of the previous three games does not seem to be present as of yet.
Nick Tarnasky beat Tuukka Rask on a rebound put-away rebound at 10:12 to give the Panthers the early lead. The Bruins have not trailed in regulation since losing to the Washington Capitals last Tuesday. It was Tarnasky’s first goal of the year for the Panthers in his 11th game.
The lead would not last long though as David Krejci tallied his 11th of the year when he threw a wrist shot on Tomas Vokoun on a rush from the baseline on the right wing at 15:54.
Florida took the lead again when the Panthers leading scorer, Stephen Weiss, flew through the neutral zone and put and inside-out move on Zdeno Chara to march straight in on Rask and bury the chance at a 18:54. It was a power play strike as Shawn Thornton was the the box for a holding call at 18:27.
End of first, Panthers up 2-1.
Bruins — 10
Panthers — 8
|Bruins aim to tame faltering Panthers||02.12.10 at 9:08 pm ET|
Everybody wants to be on an island in south Florida in the winter.
Well, unless your name is Tomas Vokoun.
In a letter to their fans on Friday, Florida Panthers managing partners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel had some direct words on what they think of the current direction of their hockey club:
Clearly, we are not satisfied with some of the players on this team that do not possess the characteristics we need to be successful. We must be accountable for that. Our task moving forward is to acquire players with the attributes, skills and qualities we want in a Panthers player. We must admit the significant shortcomings we have as an organization, and we must move quickly and efficiently to overcome these shortcomings and reshape this franchise on a much more solid foundation.
Translation? We are blowing the doors off this roster and starting from scratch.
The Panthers are having the direct opposite reaction to a horrendous streak than the Bruins. Where as Peter Chiarelli has been patient and waited for Marc Savard and Milan Lucic to come back healthy and productive and has been rewarded with three straight wins this week, Panthers general manager Randy Sexton cannot seem to wait to break up his roster. Heading into Saturday’s game Florida only stands six points from a playoff birth but it probably is looking at the teams ahead of it (like the Bruins) and has made the determination that the roster, as currently situated, does not have the talent or chemistry to break out of the funk.
That is where Vokoun comes in. The Panthers goaltender is having a good season and played well recently, despite Florida’s five-game losing streak. Vokoun is 5-7-1 in his last 13 games with a 1.77 goals against and .947 save percentage but is hampered by the fact that the Panthers are perhaps the worst defensive team in the league giving up 34.1 shots a game does not help the stalwart backstop. On top of that Florida is on an 11-game streak where it has scored two goals or less. Sound like the Bruins recent woes? Yeah, just about.
Without Vokoun, the Panthers would not even be sniffing a playoff spot and he may be the only player on the Panthers’ roster that might not be on the move. He has another year left on his deal and a no-trade clause. Sexton has stability at the most fickle position in the game and, if he is thinking clearly, should not mess with a good thing and build from the backstop on out. Trading Dominic Moore to the Canadiens for a second round pick on Thursday was a good start and there will probably be more trades on the way.
On the Bruins side of the aisle, things are looking better. The team looks to incorporate the lessons it has learned in the positive week before the Olympic break and continue them in Sunrise on Saturday. Twice this week the Bruins have broken the two-goal barrier that had been holding them back and Tuukka Rask has made them stand up (despite barely hanging on after being spotted a five goal lead on Thursday). Rask is 3-0-2 in his last five straight starts with a .942 save percentage and will likely start against the Panthers.
Miroslav Satan will miss the game after suffering a laceration on his hand in a first period hit into the boards on Thursday. Satan flew back to Boston and had the hand looked at and the report is that there is no tendon damage but rather just a fresh cut that will keep him out on Saturday. Coach Claude Julien could not comment on whether or not the cut will keep him from playing with Team Slovakia in Vancouver but suspected that Satan would probably play. Lucic and Shawn Thornton did not practice on Friday because of reported food poisoning but are expected to go on Saturday.
|Both goalies up to the task in scoreless match||02.21.09 at 8:17 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fl. — Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun leads the NHL with a .946 save percentage over the last 30 days, and he’s been showing tonight why exactly he’s been such a hot goalie as of late. He made a couple of solid standout saves in the first period, but he had an absolute stunner midway through the second when he slammed the door on a Blake Wheeler/Milan Lucic rush up the ice.
Wheeler was carrying the puck and flipped toward the net with a fire-breathing Looch storming toward the cage. Lucic put a good tip on the puck, but Vokoun stretched out the pads and made the nice leg save. He was able to subsequently smother the puck despite both Lucic and Florida defenseman Karlis Skrastins bearing down on him.
B’s goalie Tim Thomas has been equally good on the other end, alternately turning away Radek Dvorak in the first period and kicking away a Nick Tarnasky redirect in the second period.
The B’s and Panthers are still scoreless at the end of two periods, and Vokoun has looked immense in making 26 saves through two periods.
|Horton hears a post during scoreless first||at 7:41 pm ET|
Close call for the Panthers toward the end of the first as Florida forward Nathan Horton wheeled right in from the left faceoff circle and rang the outside of the left post, but ultimately couldn’t finish things off for the Panthers.
The Bruins have had some decent offensive chances, but Chuck Kobasew couldn’t finish off a pair of chances in close, and Tomas Vokoun stuck by the post and made a sound stop when snake-bitten Phil Kessel tried to sneak a puck by him.
Two power plays in the first period for the Black and Gold and no sign of Phil Kessel on either unit.
The B’s and Panthers are locked in a scoreless tie at the BankAtlantic Center after one full period of play.
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