The Caps were late last night showing up for a game that started at 8:00!! So, we’re even.
But here’s the thing. You can dissect, puree, julienne, or mince all the Corsi and Fenwick, in 5-on-5, 5-on-5 close, power play or penalty kill all you want. It really comes down to this…
0-4-0, 4.38, .874.
Braden Holtby has to find a way to slay this beast, because it is one he is likely to have to face again – and again – if the Caps are to be successful, either in this division or in the post season. And those numbers are now his career record against the Penguins.
Not that it is all on him. Coming into this game, Holtby and his counterpart, Marc-Andre Fleury, had similar save percentages. Holtby was at .925, Fleury at .921. But while Fleury’s goal-against average was a smart-looking 2.00, Holtby’s was north of 2.60. That is because Holtby was facing 35.0 shots per 60 minutes, Fleury only 25.4.
Well, there it was in living color on national television. The Pens pummeled Holtby for 17 shots and two goals in the opening period to six shots on goal and none in the net for the Caps against Fleury. The shots were 15-8, Pens, in the second period, with the only goal registered by Pittsburgh. The visitors made it three-for-three in winning the shots battle with a 8-4 advantage in the third, plus another goal for good measure.
It was an equal-opportunity effort, or lack thereof, on the part of the Caps, who had 14 different skaters on the ice having good looks at Penguin goals.
But in the end, just as a pitcher is charged with the loss in baseball, even if his team can’t field or hit behind him, the goalie is charged with the loss, even if he sees more rubber than a salesman at a Goodyear convention.
And that means that the young Mr Holtby, who is 47-19-4, 2.37, .936, with eight career shutouts against teams other than Pittsburgh, is going to have to find a way to solve this team (with at least a little more help from his friends). Because it is unlikely that the Caps will get to where they want to go without having to go through this team first.