It seems like a no-brainer that sitting in a suit, with the weight of the world off your shoulders, all while watching an NHL game from the press box, would be less stressful than being out on the ice or on the bench.
But it’s not – at least for Caps goaltender Braden Holtby. He finds it more stressful to sit out a game rather than play in it.
“[There’s] a lot more stress,” Holtby said. “Usually when you’re playing, you’re just focused on your game.”
The young gun has gotten a taste of playing in the NHL – and boasts a 10-2-2 record – but, as an AHL call-up and third on the Caps’ goalie depth chart this postseason, he’s spending the NHL playoffs so far in the confines of the press box.
He said he’s gotten a bit more used to being a press box observer since his first year in Hershey watching the playoffs from up top. And he does say the bird’s eye view has its advantages. For one, he never sat out games playing junior hockey and admitted that it was a “neat experience” to see the game from that angle. He’s also a visual learner and thus has another opportunity to observe Caps starting goalie Michal Neuvirth to see what he does.
Holtby said he learns a lot also of how the play unfolds and players’ tendencies, and, for a goalie, it’s a chance to observe the play away from the puck on the power play. For example, Holtby noticed in the Tampa-Washington game Friday that Stanley Cup winner and Hart Trophy finalist Martin St. Louis is “the one guy that wants the puck all the time.” Offensive superstar Steven Stamkos is always looking for the open ice.
“You can learn from that, and you can see where players have the puck in certain situations and see where the other guys are looking to go, so when you get in that situation playing, you know that much better,” Holtby said.
Holtby may say he’s looking forward to observing the game more from the press box, but puckheads know he wouldn’t be the caliber of player everyone expects if he didn’t admit that sitting there watching is “not fun.” A press box perch is less than exhilarating for the truly motivated player. But, for now, Holtby will watch, observe, and keep learning.
Hey, it worked for Tom Brady.