It appears Todd Reirden will go with experience over youth in the Washington Capitals' crease when the NHL returns to action.
"I think going into it ... it's Braden Holtby's job to lose, and I feel confident in him," Washington's head coach told reporters Monday. "I felt confident with where things were going right before the pause in terms of how his game was coming around, and I think he'll get the first crack at it."
Holtby went 25-14-6 with an .897 save percentage and minus-14.7 goals saved above average in 48 regular-season games before the pause. The 30-year-old showed some improvement down the stretch, however, going 4-1-1 with a .906 save percentage over his final six contests.
Ilya Samsonov, who turned 23 in February, outperformed Holtby in 2019-20, albeit over a smaller sample size. The rookie went 16-6-2 with a .913 save percentage and 4.34 goals saved above average across 26 games for Washington, including 22 starts.
Holtby, a pending unrestricted free agent, has spent his entire 10-year career with the Capitals and backstopped them to their lone championship in 2018.
"Obviously Braden Holtby's body of work (on) playoff teams speaks for itself, and how he definitely helped our team to win our first-ever Stanley Cup and was a huge, huge part of that," Reirden said.
Washington will take part in a round-robin tournament with the Eastern Conference's other three top-seeded squads - the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Philadelphia Flyers. This round, along with the corresponding Western Conference round-robin, will determine the seeding for the opening playoff matchups.