September 24, 2020

Washington Capitals 2014-15 Season Roundtable Part IV: Satisfied with the goalies?

We’re a little late to the party here, but District Sports Page conducted a roundtable with staff writers and friends of the site to discuss pertinent issues surrounding the 2014-15 Washington Capitals.

Our panelists: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief; Katie Brown, Staff Writer; Eric Hobeck, Staff Writer; J.J. Regan, Contributor; Abram Fox, former contributor, Harry Hawkings, Editor at Rock the Red.

Part I: Grade the Caps offseason and their biggest acquisitions
Part II: What is your single biggest area of concern?
Part III: What do you expect out of Alex Ovechkin this season?

Part IV: Are you satisfied with the goaltending situation?

Dave: I might be the only one on the planet that holds this opinion, but I’m still not sold on Braden Holtby as a clear-cut No. 1 goalie. He can be spectacular at times and then absolutely meh, as evidenced in allowing three goals to San Jose in five shots last week before getting yanked. He has a terrific glove hand and plays the puck very well, but neither skill is quite as sharp as he thinks, putting him in trouble — and sometimes in harm’s way — more often than he should allow. He still loses focus at times on routine plays. But he’s unquestionably the No. 1 and will be given every opportunity to show that he’s elite.

Mitch Korn is as good a goalie coach as there is, so if anyone can finally sand down the rough edges on Holtby and take him to another level, it’s this guy. Justin Peters is a solid NHL backup, but if Holtby goes down for any stretch, they’ll have to turn to Philipp Grubauer, who is solid but raw.

Katie: The Caps’ goalie tandem this season is as good as any you’ll find in the NHL, due in part to actual goaltending talent and the tutelage of goalie coach Mitch Korn. Justin Peters is an excellent backup, and didn’t show any rust in his first NHL start on Saturday, his first in almost a year. Braden Holtby is clearly thriving under Korn, and now that he has a solid defensive corps in front of him, he’ll prove that he deserves to be included in the pantheon of elite NHL goaltenders. No worries here.

Eric: I can’t remember the last time Caps fans could be this comfortable about the goalie situation. At long last, Braden Holtby is the clear-cut No. 1 and deservedly so, but Justin Peters looked every bit like the competent backup he was touted to be in Saturday’s shootout win over Florida.

J.J.: With a career save percentage of .919 Holtby has earned the right to lead the team between the pipes. He has his critics, but 25 years old is far too early to give up on a goalie with Holtby’s stats and who played as well as he did in the 2011-12 playoffs registering a .935 save percentage and 1.95 GAA. Some people love to point out that Holtby has not played at that same level since but, no goalie in the NHL could maintain numbers like that for an entire season. If your biggest knock on Holtby is that he was at his best in the playoffs, the Caps will happily take that. This team could use a few more players who played their best in the postseason.

Abram: No. Braden Holtby is a starting goaltender, but Justin Peters isn’t exactly inspiring. It’s been a long time since the Caps have had a backup that was pushing the incumbent on a regular basis, and it’s remaining to be seen is Holtby responds well to having a secure backup, or if he needs the pressure of a Grubauer to inspire his play.

Harry: Yes. Braden Holtby is a top six or seven goaltender in the NHL and will get better being coached by Mitch Korn. This is the year Holtby earns respect from the national media. If this team surprises, he will be the reason.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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