The last time we saw Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, he was yelling at teammates after getting pulled in the first period of Saturday night’s 5-2 loss in Calgary.
Apparently, the Caps’ 24-year-old netminder is still a little ticked at what he perceives as a lack of preparation before games this season.
"In my mindset, two hours before puck drop, that's when it's business time and focus,” Holtby told NBCWashington.com following Wednesday’s practice. “You see too much of guys joking around and listening to music and just looking really loose, like it's a practice. We're paid to prepare, [not to] have a dance party before the game.”
Does Holtby have a point?
The Caps have allowed the first goal in seven of their first 12 games this season and have been outscored 13-7 in first periods. Head coach Adam Oates has addressed the issue on several occasions, saying his team needs to be better prepared to dictate the pace of games instead of trying to play catch-up.
Entering Friday night’s game against the Flyers in Philadelphia, the Caps are off to a 5-7-0 start. It’s better than the 2-8-1 start the Caps had under Oates last season, but Holtby sees too many similarities.
“The preparation at the start of last year is the same as it was here,” Holtby said.
The Caps turned last season around in the final five weeks of the season, going 15-2-2 to secure a playoff berth as Southeast Division champions.
Through a dozen games this year they are already six points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins and are 10th in the Eastern Conference standings.
“I don't know exactly what it is, and who knows what preparation means in here, but it's the fact that we're not coming out hard enough to play," Holtby said. "We're not wanting to get the lead, we're not hungry enough to get that first one and keep pushing. We're kind of sitting back waiting for a hockey game [to come] to us and you don't win many games doing that.
“…Maybe we need a little bit of a wake-up call to get back to where we were last year at the end.”