By Bruce Berlet
Special to newyorkrangers.com
Chris Holt knows all about being in the right place at the right time.
After starting his rookie pro season with big expectations, Holt learned the value of patience and perseverance.
During the 2005-06 season, he made more than a dozen moves between New York, Hartford and Charlotte, often filling in for injured netminders in the Rangers system. And when AHL All-Star Al Montoya dislocated his left shoulder in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs against the Manchester Monarchs, Holt was right there to step into the Wolf Pack lineup.
He wasted no time in putting a magical finish on his first pro playoff run. The opportunity was there, and Holt, the Rangers' sixth-round pick in 2003, seized the moment.
Holt stopped 55 of 57 shots as the Wolf Pack advanced to the Atlantic Division finals against the regular season champion Portland Pirates. Hartford was later eliminated from its ninth consecutive playoff appearance in overtime of Game 6 in Maine, but Holt had left an indelible impression on the Calder Cup playoffs, going 4-4 with a 2.96 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
During the regular season, Holt was 3-2-1 with a 4.06 GAA and .879 save percentage in nine AHL games and 7-11-1 with a 4.10 GAA and .887 save percentage with the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL. He also made two saves in 10 shutout minutes in his only NHL appearance in relief of Henrik Lundqvist
in the Rangers' 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals Dec. 3.
Holt said the secret to his big playoff surge was that he concentrated on his conditioning, as he had done in the off-season, when he lost 20 pounds on a special diet/workout routine for two months. He also got some valuable practice time with the Rangers during the last week of the NHL regular season while Lundqvist was out with a hip flexor injury.
By season's end, Holt was one of the Wolf Pack's to performers in the playoffs.
"It was nice to get a few games at the end where I felt I helped my stock rise," Holt said. "Hopefully I can carry it into next year. That would be awesome."