Nichols’ Notes

Nichols’ Notes: Holtby’s Key To Success for Capitals

Nichols’ Notes: Holtby’s Key To Success for Capitals
Chris Nichols

25-year-old Braden Holtby has thrived this season, a product of many critical factors.

The mental approach is always so important though, especially for a goaltender.

“One thing that I’ve learned: early on, I thought that there was a way of me getting up for a big game and just thinking that I could steal it and things like that,” Holtby said. “Where you realize in order to be successful you have to treat a shot in the 22nd game of the season the same as Game 7 of the playoffs. You know that there’s one way to be successful with it, which you’ve worked on and you execute the same way. It’s obviously harder with different pressures and different situations; that’s the thing where you have to work extremely hard mentally.

“As a goalie, the shots are still the same. … I think that’s one of the things that the great playoff performers not only in goaltending and in other sports as well are able to do, is really dumb things down and realize that no matter the circumstances, they see the opportunity as, you know how to do it — you’ve done it a million times before and you do it regardless of the circumstances. And that’s one thing I want to do.”

Source: Burnside/ ESPN

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Scott Hartnell has seen time with 2013 first-round picks Alexander Wennberg and Marko Dano of late, which has provided the chance for Hartnell to do some mentoring.

Goalless stretches can seem even worse when you’re new to the league.

“We’ve talked about all that,” Hartnell said. “You’re a top draft pick for a reason, because you’re scoring, you have intangibles and you think the game right. Then you come up to the NHL and you start wondering if you will ever score, if you will ever make plays.
“But eventually you grow into your body, grow into knowing the game and playing the game at the NHL level. I feel like these guys have made great strides in that respect here lately. They’re doing a heck of a job with the fast-track learning curve.”

Source: Mitchell/ Dispatch

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What is one of the clear advantages with the new California AHL shift?

“Ninety per cent of the kids that go to the American League, what’s the one thing they need?” Calgary Flames GM Treliving asked. “It’s physical development. So what we’ve always done is said, ‘You need to get stronger, but we’re going to send you down there to play 1,000 games and then we’re going to bitch at you at the end of the year because you didn’t get any stronger.’ And you’ll say, ‘Well with all the busing and flying, there wasn’t time.’ The expectation is we’ll play fewer games, so that means less travel. We’re able to rest and recover more; and those games where we’re maybe playing four in a five or three in three, now that’s a recovery day or a training day.”

Source: Duhatschek/ Globe and Mail

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The always-quotable Brian Burke was asked yet again about his time in Toronto. Although he’s loathe to be a critic-from-afar concerning his former team, he is quick to defend against condemnation that he brought in the wrong players to the Leafs.

Like, say, Phil Kessel.

“I would do that deal again tomorrow,” said Burke. “I felt we were experiencing price-point fatigue in our market. What we charged for tickets and not winning was one thing. What we charged for tickets and not winning and not having a star? I felt we needed a star and I went and got him.

“The guy’s money in the bank, 35 goals every year, on a struggling team. Can you imagine if it was a high-powered offensive team, what Phil Kessel could do?”

Source: DiManno/Star

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If you haven’t yet discovered the articles at Players’ Tribune, you’ve been missing out.

Simply put, as the name would suggest, it’s players – from many sports – writing their story in their own words. Really compelling material.

Here’s an excerpt from Scott Gomez, describing how he received ‘an Ivy League education’ from the New Jersey Devils.

“Once when I was riding a hot streak, I remember being on the team plane reading about how great I was doing. Joe Nieuwendyk walked over, grabbed the paper from me and said, ‘Gomer, don’t read that shit.’ And I was kind of confused and then he told me, ‘Get in the habit right now of not reading the paper, because one day they’re going to start writing things about you that you won’t want to read.’

“Joe was one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around in this sport. There’s a certain code amongst hockey players. When a guy like Joe Nieuwendyk tells you not to do something, you listen.

“I had no idea at the time just how valuable his advice would turn out to be.”

Source: Gomez/ Players’ Tribune

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“If there’s anything wrong with hockey today,” the Canadiens coach was saying, “it’s that we’re breeding too many self-appointed coaches, too many critics. It seems to be getting worse every season. …

“I’ve never encountered so much second-guessing,” he continued. “That goes for the press, radio and television reporters as well as the fans. Nobody seems to want to talk about the good plays we make, the good games we win. All you hear and read about are our mistakes. It looks to me as if everybody wants to be a hockey coach these days.”

Very entertaining column here.

No, those weren’t the thoughts of Michel Therrien.

It was Toe Blake.

From 50 years ago.

A few other gems in there too. Worth checking out.

Source: Stubbs/ Gazette

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Confidence. It can be an athlete’s best friend, or their worst enemy.

For Jacob Josefson, the relationship has become a lot warmer of late.

“There is no question he is getting better each and every game and doing a lot of little things that he wasn’t doing simply because he wasn’t comfortable doing them,” New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello explained. “He’s getting used to that now. He’s getting more physical. He’s taking pucks to the net and using his speed and he’s getting confidence.

“Natural talent and skills he’s always had. Right now he’s putting them together. He’s getting closer and closer to being an all-situation player… The next step for him is realizing he can be an offensive player.”

Source: Chere/ NJ Advanced Media

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On the same subject, here’s one Mr. Luke Schenn:

“My confidence wavered a lot more being a young guy in the Toronto market,” Schenn said. “It makes you a little stronger playing in that market. When you make a bad play, it’s going to be scrutinized in the paper for a few days leading into the next game. There was a time there, too, where I was out of the lineup a couple times for play reasons, but it was actually my confidence more than my play.

“This just comes with years in the league and growing up, not letting anything rattle you too much.”

Source: Seravalli/ Daily News

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Kyle Okposo is all-too familiar with the disdain with which many viewed the New York Islanders in terms of an NHL destination for a long stretch of time.

But my, oh my, how times have changed.

“I was reading something before the trade deadline about no-trade lists, teams that guys would not allow a trade to, and we weren’t on anyone’s list, it seemed,” Okposo said. “I think guys around the league are paying attention to what’s changed in here. People have been hesitant in the past, obviously. I think that’s gone now.”

Source: Staple/ Newsday

Nichols’ Notes
Chris Nichols

Chris has written about both hockey and fantasy hockey for a number of media outlets over the last 14 years, including a combined decade with Sportsnet.ca and ESPN.com. He launched NicholsOnHockey.com in February of 2014. An aversion to wearing socks sparked a move from his hometown of Edmonton to San Diego, California in the mid-’90s, and the Oilers have not won a Cup in his absence.

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