New Daddy Holtby focused on Game 7

New Daddy Holtby focused on Game 7
May 11, 2012, 6:00 pm
Share This Post

He is 22 years old and playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in his career.

He is one win away from taking the Washington Capitals to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 14 years.

And, oh yes, Braden Holtby is now the proud father of a one-day-old baby boy named Benjamin Hunter Holtby, who was born on Thursday morning, hours after Holtby helped the Capitals stave off elimination with a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the conference semifinals.

Yeah, it was planned so it would be the least amount of a distraction to our team as possible, Holtby said following Fridays workout at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. It was a great day. Mom Brandi Bodnar and baby are doing great. But now Im focusing on hockey.

Its a great thing. Its a great time of year.

Holtby is trying his best to separate the joys of being a father and being the goaltender of a team that needs him completely focused for Saturday nights Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.

The main thing you learn when you turn professional is to separate personal life from hockey, and thats what were gonna do here.

Capitals veteran Mike Knuble, a father of three children, said Holtby's new addition is a distraction, but a good one.

"Guys arent worried even though it can be a big distraction, and it is," Knuble said. "It is a distraction, theres no denying that and its a big time in his life and Im sure it will always be memorable and now even more so.

Holtby has been remarkably unflappable for the Capitals during their playoff run. He ranks fifth among playoff goalies with a .935 save percentage and sixth with a 1.95 GAA.

Holtby was tremendous in his last Game 7 performance, a 2-1 overtime victory in Boston, and teammate Jason Chimera, the father of two, said he thinks being a new dad might take the young goalie to another level on the ice.

Its fun, Chimera said. I played my best hockey after I had my kid. I think it maybe relaxes him even more. I think its one of those things that just puts a whole lot of things into perspective and hockeys not the be-all, end-all.

I think its a good thing. When I had my kids I think I started being better as a person and playing better as a hockey player. So I think it goes hand-in-hand.

Said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin: You know its a big moment for him, but I think its going to give him more motivation. I think right now hes probably happiest guy in the world. The way hes playing, what happens in his personal life, its great and were going to help him and were going to support him.

Holtby asked reporters to keep their questions on hockey instead of his personal life, but he was happy to talk about the sudden popularity of his mother, a recording artist who has been shown during recent games by NBC and Hockey Night In Canada.

Tami Hunter Holtby was Saskatchewans Female Vocalist of the Year in 1996 and her band, Walkin After Midnight, released two albums.

Shes becoming a bit famous herself, Holtby said of the camera shots on national television. I dont know if shes happy about it, but shes just enjoying everything.

As for Holtby, he says hed much rather blend into Dale Hunters team concept than stand out in a crowd. But if he can knock out Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangersa little more than two weeks after disposing Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins, hell be able to share quite a story with his newborn son.

The way were playing right now the goalies job is to be solid and give the team a chance to win, not to steal games for the team, Holtby said. Thats not how it works with this group and thats a great attribute to have.

Guys arent worried even though it can be a big distraction, and it is. It is a distraction, theres no denying that and its a big time in his life and Im sure it will always be memorable and now even more so.