Last Cap Standing (Between the Pipes): Washington’s Playoff Dreams in Holtby’s Hands

To say that it’s been an interesting season for the Washington Capitals hockey club this year would be a drastic understatement. After coming out of the gates red hot, winning their first seven straight games, the Caps slowed down considerably shortly thereafter. They struggled with two, 4-game losing streaks in the month of November alone, firing head coach Bruce Boudreau during the tail end of the second of these. The remainder of the season was rather marginal, and void of any serious excitement, unless you consider disappointing performances by their top players riveting stuff. But lately, the end of the season has been a bit less dull, albeit in a still slightly unfavorable way.

Having just barely ousted the Buffalo Sabres for the final playoff spot with their victory against the Panthers, and subsequently taking the 7 seed out from under Ottawa, the Caps almost made it to the end of the regular season in relatively good health. That is until Michal Neuvirth went down with a leg injury just five minutes into the second period of the penultimate regular season game against Florida. The injury to Neuvirth came just one week after Tomas Vokoun reinjured his groin in the Caps March 29th game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Now, unless either Tomas Vokoun or Michal Neuvirth can find a bowflex treadclimber to hop on to help with a quick rehabilitation, it looks like rookie goaltender Braden Holtby will be carrying the team into the playoffs on his young shoulders this month. Holtby looked solid in the Caps 4-1 victory on Saturday night against the Eastern Conference’s No.1 seed NY Rangers, and the club looks for him to continue with that level of play in his first playoff appearance against the Boston Bruins later this month.

With a wild regular season now behind them, the Washington Capitals can at least breath a short sigh of relief. But with their top two goalies out and a rookie goaltender with 0 NHL playoff experience between the pipes, one can expect some more wild goings-on from the Washington Capitals in the near future. Heck, at this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won it all.

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