Braden Holtby has one of the most detailed game-day routines in the NHL.
The Washington Capitals goaltender has a well-documented pregame schedule, a precisely timed series of exercises and drills designed to warm up his mind, eyes, hands and body before each game. The rituals include visualization in a quiet room, throwing rubber balls against a wall outside the locker room, dynamic stretches, and eye movements that involve shifting focal points from one spot to another.
There is even time set aside after the morning skate to play the guitar, something Holtby added to the routine early in 2015-16, when he tied Martin Brodeur's single-season win record (48) and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie.
Holtby's routine was extensive enough to concern goaltending coach Mitch Korn when he was hired by the Washington Capitals in 2014. But Korn, who left Washington last summer to join the New York Islanders, was reassured early on when Holtby told him that he was in control of his routine, the routine did not control him. It never came up again.
The concern that too much pregame preparation can wear out a goalie is valid, however. Other goalies in the NHL are learning this after cutting back on their extensive routines.
"I was such a slave to it," Vancouver Canucks backup Thatcher Demko said. "I'd do tennis balls and wouldn't stop until I felt dialed in and then I'd realize, 'Oh no, we have a meeting now.' I was sweating, and my rotator cuff was sore. I was so tired by the time the game started."