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Playoff Preview: Braden Holtby vs Jaroslav Halak

Playoff Preview: Braden Holtby vs Jaroslav Halak

With Metropolitan Division rivals the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders facing each other in the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, two of the league’s in form netminders are set to go head-to-head.


Braden Holtby

2014/15 Statistics
Save % GAA GSAA Even Strength Save % Adjusted Save % High-Danger Save %
.923 2.22 17.46 .929 .933 .869

Holtby enjoyed something of a resurgence this season; with the Capitals new coaching staff and goalie guru Mitch Korn allowing the Saskatchewan native to revert to his preferred playing style, permitting a little backwards flow in his game instead of the more conservative initial positioning that Adam Oates tried to install.

Holtby possesses a balanced game, and likes to play with a little rhythm and remain active. While many goalie coaches are reluctant to encourage this, because dependence on a “good rhythm” can leave a goalie more dependant on timing and feel, the 25-year old put up good numbers while playing a career-high 73 games.

Explosive laterally, you can never count Holtby out of a play, especially on odd-man rushes or when it looks like there might be a backdoor tap-in opportunity. Count on Holtby to get a pad across and even stack vertical coverage with his gloves too, but he can be vulnerable down low when moving laterally, or on “bang bang” plays and scrambles, because of the way he reaches and extends his pads, often without sealing the ice.

Jaroslav Halak

2014/15 Statistics
Save % GAA GSAA Even Strength Save % Adjusted Save % High-Danger Save %
.914 2.43 -1.20 .923 .932 .867

Halak joined the Islanders as an unrestricted free agent last summer, and became the team’s first netminder to win more than 32 games in a single season since Rick DiPietro in 2006-07.

The 29-year old continues to play the same contained game he developed under Roland Melanson’s guidance in Montreal, and likes to play inside the blue paint. This can leave him vulnerable to shots from the middle due to his size (5-foot-11, 186 pounds), but generally the Slovak stopper has a very well rounded game with good hands on top of a solid butterfly base that is usually enough to make up for his lack of size and positional aggression.

Don’t be surprised if the Capitals test him from tight angles because a reliance on traditional VH for post coverage on sharp-angle attacks, particularly off the rush, has led to some leaky goals in the past.

About The Author

Rob McGregor

A member of the InGoal Magazine family since 2014, Rob is also Media Manager for the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) in the UK and a former goaltender in Great Britain's third tier National League (NIHL).

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