Brett Connolly had some doubts during his first three months in Washington. He loved the city, he loved his new teammates and wanted nothing more than to compete with the Capitals. But he was out of the line-up more than he was in, and in his third team of 24, he feared that this would be his last blow when he showed he was a NHLer. He never got that far to ask for a trade, but he and his agent wondered if there might be another opportunity for him.
"That was a vocational year," said Connolly.
He kept it up and then had his best years in Washington with 15 consecutive goals this season, which is a high quality career for him, and perhaps he does not have to reinvent himself. When the capitals (5-4-3) had a rocky start, Connolly's game was a silver foundation. He has a three-point scoring and is Washington's front-runner with five to five points with eight points.
And while his production in the past was made by shooting targets with a high percentage shot, he was more of a playmaker in the first 12 games of the Capitals. With seven assists he is in the past season, more than half of his total of 12 helpers with a total of 70 games. He had a career high of 0.39 points per game last season and currently produces 0.75 points per game.
"He's not in the Cy Young race this year," broke out Galtender Braden Holtby, referring to a hockey phrase for players who have more goals than assists because their stat line reads like a good baseball record.
"He's a great player," Holtby said. "His shot is phenomenal, and I mean, I think it's exactly the situation he was in with the lines and the stuff – he was somehow the shooter. He finds ways to create other ways, but I do not think his game has changed that much. I think sometimes it just works, but it plays very well. "
Perhaps the biggest change for Connolly was the head coach. Despite Barry's defiance, Connolly's chances were usually limited to 10-12 minutes per game, and occasionally he was a healthy scratch, including the majority of the 2017 playoffs. In Coach Todd Reirden's first month behind the bench was Connolly alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin promoted to a topline, and while he eventually moved into the house in the third row alongside Lars Eller, he has more than just 14 minutes per game.
"I just think Connolly's game is a lot more confident than in the past." "Not every game is definitely his best, but he has the ability to generate and be a part of it." If they are not him, he may still be the main person building these opportunities. In our ratings, we believe he has done a lot of good things with the puck and he needs to continue to do so so that we can get a depth rating.
"For me, it's down to his confidence built on him last year and the ability to play with some of our top guys to start the year," said Reirden. "When we had him in the front row, it was a good situation for him. He sees that he can play with these guys anytime. "
And maybe that was not necessarily the case before.
"In my opinion [Reirden] It was very open to give me a legitimate chance to take the next step in my game, "Connolly said. "He feels that I deserve it, so I think the extra few minutes per night … that's an extra two or three shifts per game, which makes a big difference. But there are different styles – he and Barry are totally different – and there was a lot of communication and stuff right now. It was a good start and I'm happy with the way it has gone so far. "
He's in a contract year and is supposed to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but it's no longer a question of Connolly being in the NHL. Tampa Bay's sixth overall in 2010, his career was disappointed when he hit the big leagues too early and felt even more "lost" when he was promoted to Boston in 2014. He has revived his career at Capitals – his six goals and three assists in 24 playoff games are an overlooked part of last season's Stanley Cup run. What has most encouraged him, however, is that he feels his game has more.
"I think this year is a bit different," Connolly said. "Of course we won the trophy and I've proven to be the most important time of the year for the last two seasons and the playoffs. You know what I can do – they saw it and Todd saw it – and now it's all about being as consistent as possible, and if you do not have good nights, jump right back. It's definitely a completely different situation with the coaching staff. "
Continue reading in the capitals:
The capitals enter the home ground with five games and have to repair the defensive game
Andre Burakovsky hopes that a new mental approach can breathe life into his game
Braden Holtby is always calm, cool and collected. , , unless you strike a puck from a child