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Capitals' Holtby pursuing Brodeur's wins record

Washington goalie has realistic chance at 50 victories this season

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealenhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

Holtby's save on penalty kill

PHI@WSH: Holtby robs Streit on the penalty kill

2/7/16: Mark Streit receives a cross-ice pass all alone in front of the Capitals' net, but Braden Holtby moves to his left to make the save

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NEWARK, N.J. -- Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is a big fan of former New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

"I grew up in a time where he was among the goalies of my era, so that's who I watched every single day," Holtby said. "Later on in my career, I read his book and the mental approach he had, the stamina, everything was just amazing. His stats; it's like they weren't even real."

Holtby is humbled by the fact at some point this season he could be mentioned in the same breath as Brodeur. It's something he never thought possible. 

Brodeur will have his No. 30 retired by the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday before an expected capacity crowd that will pay tribute to his numerous records and Stanley Cup championships.

Holtby happens to be closing in on the record Brodeur set in 2006-07 when he finished with 48 wins, the most by any goalie in an NHL season.

"It's definitely something I look at because the only statistic I care about is wins," Holtby said following a 22-save, 3-2 shootout victory against the Devils on Saturday. "It's a stat you can share with the rest of your team and everyone is a part of it. We have a great group, but we know we have a lot of work to grow our game. Winning is the only thing, that's why we're here."

Holtby will remain in the moment, however, and take it one day at a time. After all, he's a goalie and those in his position usually have a daily routine that offers some sense of normalcy and comfort. But the statistics don't lie; Holtby is on pace to become the first in history to 50 wins.

"He reminds me of me a lot," Brodeur said. "Not the way he plays, but the way he puts himself out there. He's not scared and wants to play every night. I'm sure he's playing through injuries but he seems like a warrior. I don't know him personally, but it looks that way, and he's been good and is going to be good for a long time."

Holtby, who made 33 saves in a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, is 33-5-3 in 42 games this season. Brodeur won 48 in 78 games in his record-breaking season.

Video: PHI@WSH: Holtby makes the stop on a shot by Grioux

"Anytime you break a record that is as hard to break as [48 wins in a season], it certainly speaks volumes to what you've accomplished," Capitals goaltending coach Mitch Korn told NHL.com. "Having said that, the more you try to break those records, the harder it gets because it's a distraction, a change in focus. I know Braden doesn't even think about the records; his mission is the game he's playing today."

The Capitals have 31 games remaining in the regular season. Holtby needs 16 wins to pass Brodeur and 18 to reach 50.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz is not concerned with Holtby winning 50 games, but understands why the question will be asked throughout the second half of the season. Like Holtby, Trotz is a big admirer and fan of Brodeur.

"When I first saw [Brodeur] with the Utica Devils (in the American Hockey League) way back in the day, I honestly didn't think he'd have the career that he did," Trotz said. "I thought he was out of the box back then because of his puck handling skills. He wasn't traditional in the way he played and I wondered if he was going to make it.

"He also had a little bit of a fuse back then when he was younger."

When told what Trotz had said, Brodeur smiled.

"I don't even know my style; it would be hard for me to tell you because I just tried to stop the puck and that's the way I went through things," Brodeur said. "I wanted to play a different way so that when the players came in on me and were going to shoot, they didn't know what to expect. Will I go in butterfly, will I stand up, poke check or stack the pads? 

"I tried to put as many things in my game as possible so it looked awkward for people, but in my madness I knew exactly what I was doing."

That's what Korn appreciated most about Brodeur.

"Marty had the uncanny ability to be ready no matter if it was his first shot eight minutes into the period, or his 15th shot," Korn said. "Any way you wanted to play, he could play however the game was delivered to him. Not everyone can say that." 

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