Sports Maple Leafs and Capitals hoping for more from Andersen and Holtby

19:25  21 april  2017
19:25  21 april  2017 Source:   Sportsnet

Holtby, Capitals edge Maple Leafs in overtime to win series 4-2

  Holtby, Capitals edge Maple Leafs in overtime to win series 4-2 Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in overtime Sunday night to win their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series in six games.Marcus Johansson scored the overtime winner as the Washington Capitals beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 on Sunday to capture the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series in six games.

WASHINGTON—Frederik Andersen will be back in net against Braden Holtby for Game 2 of the Maple Leafs - Capitals Stanley Cup playoff series. More from the Toronto Star & Partners.

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) looks on as the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate the Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) shoots on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during third period NHL hockey round one playoff action in Toronto on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Braden Holtby or Frederik Andersen: Which one of you wants it?

Will one goalie stand on his head for two games? Or will one will completely crumble under the lights?

To borrow an indelible phrase from Randy Carlyle, the goaltending in the dead-even Washington Capitals–Toronto Maple Leafs roller coaster has been just OK.

And with three games or less on the docket, a brick-wall mounting or full-sieve heel turn could well mean the difference between a showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins or an opportunity to skate in the world championships.

Defending Vezina winner Holtby already claimed the 2017 William Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender on the team allowing the fewest goals. His name will certainly be included in Saturday’s press release announcing this season’s Vezina finalists.

Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen takes out Brett Connolly with a big hip check

  Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen takes out Brett Connolly with a big hip check Game 1 between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs was a physical affair in which the Capitals emerged with a narrow 3-2 OT victory. There were plenty of highlights from the Caps’ comeback win, but one of our favorites came from Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen. Holding on to a 2-1 lead in the second period, the Leafs were trying their best to absorb a physical push from the Capitals. The Caps were starting to really throw their weight around, dishing out several big hits in quick succession. When a loose puck was headed behind the Maple Leafs net, Andersen decided to get in on the action.

More importantly, Braden Holtby has to get back to being Braden Holtby . Maple Leafs - Capitals series has been brought to you by Claus Andersen .

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) looks on as the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate the Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) shoots on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during third period NHL hockey round one playoff action in Toronto on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Andersen, too, proved to be one of the conference’s best and most depended-upon netminders, posting a .918 save percentage over 66 appearances behind an average blue-line. Yet neither has delivered his A game for 60 minutes in the second season, and time is running out.

“Too many goals are going in. How’s that?” Leafs coach Mike Babcock summarized bluntly.

Of the starting goalies still alive in these playoffs, none own a worse save percentage than Andersen (.905) or Holtby (.907).

We’ve seen a combined eight shoutouts in the other first-round series; only once in this set has a goalie kept his goals against under three (Holtby allowed two in Game 1).

Statistically, Andersen and Holtby are each playing well below their personal playoff and regular-season averages. Combine this with a 1-2 ranking in shots per game among surviving squads — Toronto has 37.5, Washington 36.8 — and it’s making for high-volume workloads and call-your-grandma firewagon hockey.

Maple Leafs give Capitals scare but fall in OT in Game 1

  Maple Leafs give Capitals scare but fall in OT in Game 1 Tom Wilson froze the clock 5:15 into overtime on Thursday, capitalizing on a Martin Marincin turnover and beating Frederik Andersen high to give the Capitals a 1-0 series advantage.The Toronto Maple Leafs gave the Washington Capitals a scare in Game 1 of a series they’re not supposed to win, but couldn’t hold off the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 19: Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs tries to get behind Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Washington Capitals as teammate Braden Holtby #70 follows the play during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) looks on as the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate the Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) shoots on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during third period NHL hockey round one playoff action in Toronto on Monday, April 17, 2017.

It’s wild, raucous fun for us viewers.

But, in the goalies’ minds, it’s stirring apprehension, self-blame and excuse-making.

“It’s one of those stretches where every type of bounce seems to be going the wrong way. You have to focus on the percentages, where they usually go, and taking them away,” Holtby said — after a win.

“[I’m] trying to overcompensate for the bad bounces at times with screens and traffic in front. You just gotta battle. Look and video and find certain ways to fight through it.”

Holtby also dropped this: “We earned our bounces, and they kinda got theirs.”

The twist here is that Holtby is finally receiving the playoff run support he’s long deserved. The man has allowed two goals or fewer in 32 of his 50 career playoff games, and the Capitals are just 21-11 in those contests.

Holtby hasn’t been awful by any means, but he’s admitted that there are shots he’d like to have back.

Are the Maple Leafs facing the best goalie in the NHL in the first round?

  Are the Maple Leafs facing the best goalie in the NHL in the first round? Are the Maple Leafs facing the best goalie in the NHL in the first round?Frederik Andersen and John Gibson won the William M. Jennings Trophy last year. It’s a funny old thing that goes to goalies, but is based on team goals against, not the goalies’ GAA.

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) looks on as the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate the Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) shoots on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during third period NHL hockey round one playoff action in Toronto on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) defends the net from Washington Capitals right wing Brett Connolly (10) in front of right wing Connor Brown (12) Ovechkin, John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom scored in regulation for the Capitals , and Holtby finished with 47 saves.

Heroic grinder Tom Wilson bailed him out in Game 4 by diving into the crease for a trickling puck. And even that wow moment in Game 3, when Holtby charged from his net to the blue line to break up a Mitch Marner breakaway with high-risk aggression, he later called an error in judgment.

“Goalies, they do everything on predictability, and there are a lot of things that aren’t very predictable right now, and that’s what at times makes Braden look like he’s not there,” coach Barry Trotz said.

“He’s playing fine. It’s just not very predictable right now because there is stuff that is bouncing all over. It’s a pinball machine out there.”

That’s by design.

“We’ve got to frustrate him,” Nazem Kadri said. “We’re getting in those dirty areas and finding ways to score on deflections and rebounds and secondary opportunities. He’s a great goaltender if he sees the puck flat-on.”

The Leafs have invested time studying video of Holtby, examining his positional tendencies and picking out where to shoot.

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“When push comes to shove, he’s one of the best goalies in the league. You never see him rattled in net,” Matt Martin said. “Freddy’s been great for us as well, so hopefully we can tighten up and not rely as much on Freddy to make big saves.”

Leafs are down but hardly defeated: Feschuk

  Leafs are down but hardly defeated: Feschuk WASHINGTON—One of the great crutches of Maple Leaf failures past has been an obsession with pressure. There’s too much of it in Toronto for hockey players to prosper, we’ve been told. Poor guys. Boo-hoo. And so on.But in Mike Babcock’s two seasons as head coach, he’s repositioned that tired old rationalization brilliantly. Rather than lament the rabidness of the city, he’s encouraged his players to embrace their legions of fans; to stop reading sports pages and listening to jock radio; to get a hobby that doesn’t involve hockey. (He has suggested hunting and country music). And his players have bought the pitch.

His Capitals counterpart, Braden Holtby posted similar 2.29 goals against average and .932 save percentage while facing six fewer shots. If the Maple Leafs win game three, it will be because Andersen continues his strong play against one of the best goalie in the More from Puck Prose.

There will be a Game 5 of the Capitals - Maple Leafs series and we now know when it will take place. 2. Braden Holtby will have a higher save percentage than Frederik Andersen . Andersen has overshadowed Holtby so far in this series, but that has more to do with results than play.

Unlike Andersen, Holtby hit the rink for optional skates Tuesday and Thursday to work on his game. He made a conscious effort to play the puck more frequently in Game 4 to get a better feel for the game.

“He asked if he could come out and do some stuff just to keep his body [ready],” Trotz said. “He’s one of those guys that a body in motion stays in motion.”

As good as Andersen has looked for stretches — both goalies have snuffed out 5-on-3 power plays — Justin Williams tapped in a puck he fumbled in his skates in Game 1, and Andersen knows he should’ve stopped both Capitals’ game-winners: Wilson’s chuck-it from the half-wall in Game 1’s OT and T.J. Oshie’s five-hole softy in the third period of Game 4. He’s owned those mistakes.

“It was a tough letdown. One of those turns you want to come up big, and I failed to do that today,” Andersen said after Game 4’s loss.

His play as a whole?

“Not the best. I wish I could have helped the team out a little bit more, coming up bigger when they had their chances.”

The forwards in both sweaters are flying, the chances are plentiful, and the series is gleefully wide open, there to be seized.

Time for one of these masked men to stand up and shut the door.

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