- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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He was playing for the Capitals' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, where he was a teammate of Holtby’s for much of that season. Now a Bruins winger, Bourque was dishing a scouting report on Holtby with the media Monday before he and the Bruins boarded a plane to Washington, D.C. for their game against the Caps Tuesday night. It’ll be the first meeting between the teams since the Caps dethroned the defending Stanley Cup champs in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
“I knew exactly how good he was and what kind of goalie he was,” Bourque said of Holtby, who was thrust into the starting role for Washington after the team’s starting and backup goalies were hurt. “I knew what he was capable of and it didn’t surprise me at all.”
Holtby had a great playoff run, giving up an average of just over two goals per game as the Capitals eventually fell to the New York Rangers in the conference semifinals.
After a rough start to this season, the 23-year-old Holtby is starting to find his game again and looking more like the goalie who went into a zone in the playoffs last spring.
“Obviously he had a great playoffs last year and he’s had a little bit of a tough start this year but he’s a great goalie,” Bourque said of his former teammate. “But he’s a great goalie and he proved that last year in the playoffs. So you always gotta watch out for him too.”
Bourque says Holtby has a tough side to him as well and resembles another goalie that wasn’t afraid to let opposing forwards know he’s there.
“He’s a tough goalie and he battles really hard,” Bourque said. “His best attribute is he’s a good goalie positionally but he battles hard. He’s got a little Ron Hextall style where he’ll slash ya in the back so he’s tough to play against.”
Bourque also discussed a hot topic in Washington and around the NHL right now: The constant venom directed at Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin by fans.
“I don’t know why that is. I think he’s a great player,” Bourque said. “He works hard and he comes to the rink every day and puts it all out on the line. So I’m not sure why too many people get on him. Maybe it’s because they haven’t won or gone too deep in the playoffs, maybe that’s why? I don’t know why. But I know him personally and I think he’s a great guy and great hockey player as well.”
8dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur
44dKyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com