Ever since he was selected by the Caps in the 2008 NHL draft, Braden Holtby was viewed as the team’s future. They traded an outstanding goalie, Semyon Varlamov, to essentially clear a path for Holtby to make the team, and ever since he was stellar in a playoff series against the Bruins in 2012, he’s been a fixture in net.
But, in the following few seasons, he was a bit screwy. It was partially thanks to the meddling of then head coach Adam Oates, but there was always a concern that he was maybe a head case in net. There’s even a YouTube montage to his weird mannerisms during games, and at the end of the 2014 season, he completely lost his form and his starting position.
The Caps missed the playoffs, cleaned house, and brought in new goaltending coach Mitch Korn to go along with head coach Barry Trotz. All Holtby’s done in that period is be the best goalie in the league, this season tying Martin Brodeur’s regular season wins record after a tremendous performance in last year’s playoffs.
The talent was always there, and having one of the league’s best goaltending coaches doesn’t hurt one bit, but Holtby credits one more thing for his outstanding work this year.
Jamming to some mellow Bro tunes before games. From Sports Illustrated:
Sometime last November, right before he peeled off 20 wins—and zero regulation losses—in his next 22 decisions, Holtby added one more task to his exhaustive checklist. An avid music fan from birth, mostly thanks to his mother, Tami, who fronted a Saskatchewan-based country band throughout his childhood, Holtby took some lessons in his junior hockey days and now collects guitars. (He returned from his late January 2016 All-Star Game appearance in Nashville with a decent haul.) So when another one arrived in the mail at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, he started strumming to pass the time.
Ask anyone inside the dressing room of the Presidents’ Trophy winners, who will open their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday at Verizon Center—the scene of Holtby kicked back with a guitar on his knee, playing Goo Goo Dolls and George Ezra tunes that float down the hallway, dovetails perfectly with his casual off-ice personality.
It’s Jack Johnson, though, that gets him mellowed out the most before games.
Starting with Jack Johnson’s third album, In Between Dreams, he says, “music was my escape. Lyrics and songs could put everything into perspective, and Jack Johnson’s always constantly singing about just relaxing and enjoying the ride, enjoying life in general. I could be frustrated from practice or morning skate, and I play that and get back into the state where you’re content with yourself, content where you’re at, ready to face the day.”
If that ain’t Bro as Fuck, man, I don’t know what is.
The Caps kick of the NHL Playoffs on Thursday and, because Brandon is a Flyers fan, here’s a compilation of Holtby’s best saves.
[Via Sports Illustrated]