Big night for 19-year-old Illinoisan Connor Carrick. Playing in just his second NHL game, Carrick scored his first goal in the big league, a nifty breakaway tally on Calgary goalie Karri Ramo. Carrick’s goal started a big comeback for the Caps, who barely eked out a win in their home opener. For his achievement, Carrick received a commemorative puck and a shaving-cream pie to his dome courtesy of his captain, Alex Ovechkin.
On October 3, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Alex Brandon
Still kicking off what everyone expects to be a big season, the Washington Capitals haven’t worked out the kinks yet. At Thursday’s home opener against the Calgary Flames, the Caps defense seemed to have difficulty playing defense or perhaps grasping even the abstract concept of defense.
David Jones roofed it to Braden Holtby’s near side to open up scoring early in the first. Following a momentum-nothinging fight by Tom Wilson, Lee Stempniak made it 2-0. Not longer after that came a power play tally by Jiri Hudler, who had loads of free ice as Jason Chimera went a-rambling on the penalty-kill prairie.
The Caps regained life in the second period as Connor Carrick scored his first NHL goal (at the ripe age of 19), a snazzy slow-mo breakaway upon exiting the penalty box. Spirits were leavened momentarily, but Lance Bouma converted when Michal Neuvirth abdicated the net to make it 4-1 near the halfway mark. The Capitals converted a second-period high-sticking call as — wait for it– Alex Ovechkin scored from his favorite spot. That’s Ovi for ya. Unhappy with just one, Ovechkin took a puck off the faceoff to the top shelf to get the Capitals within one after two periods.
A penalty-filled third period yielded nothing until Nick Backstrom, the silent suede Swede, tied the game with a scrambly power-play goal. Into overtime we went and beyond.
Grabo scored on a backhand rooftop.
Sven Baertschi denied on a five-hole attempt by Neuvy.
Washington Capitals 2012 fifth-round pick Connor Carrick made his NHL debut tonight in his hometown of Chicago. And on National TV, Pierre McGuire showed him the respect and dignity he deserves. By getting his name wrong.
On Tuesday, Carrick is expected to be named to Washington Capitals’ opening night roster. He may play against the Chicago Blackhawks, his favorite team growing up as a kid in Illinois.
Carrick made the roster because he is a smart, smooth-skating defenseman who plays with the poise of a 30-year-old. He lacks the talent of a Dmitry Orlov. He does not have the size of a Tyson Strachan. But those players are in Hershey and Carrick is with Washington because he consistently got the puck on net and played nearly flawless defense– though he had some challenges facing the Flyers on Friday.
Carrick finished the preseason tied for third on the team in points with one goal and four assists in five games. Carrick had the same amount of points as a certain reigning Hart Trophy winner (four goals, one assist).
Tyson Strachan didn’t make the team; will Tom Wilson? (Photo credit: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)
With the deadline to submit opening-day rosters approaching at 5:00 PM Tuesday, the Washington Capitals moved towards finalizing their 23-player roster with a flurry of moves on Sunday.
The Caps assigned defensemen Michal Cajkovsky, Dmitry Orlov, and Tyson Strachan (who cleared waivers at noon) and forward Dane Byers to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. They have also placed forward Joel Rechlicz on waivers. Today was the final day players could be put on waivers before rosters must be set, meaning the Caps won’t be able to demote any more players who have those rights.
That leaves Washington with 21 players on the roster (13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders) and three prospects trying to crack the lineup: Connor Carrick, Tom Wilson, and Michael Latta.
During the mess that was Monday’s brawl-filled Capitals-Bruins game, one play jumped out at me.
With the Caps on the powerplay, defenseman Connor Carrick got the puck. He was the lone guy on the point — with Mikhail Grabovski at his right and Troy Brouwer to his left. Bruins veteran Daniel Paille went after Carrick, thinking he could cause the youngster, playing one of the hardest positions in hockey– powerplay quarterback, to cough up the puck or surrender the blue line.
What would you expect from a 19-year-old on this play? Keeping the puck in the zone and dumping it in would be satisfactory, but that’s not what Carrick did. Instead, he faked an easy pass to Brouwer and then backhanded the puck to Grabovski. No one on the ice except Carrick seemed to expect that play. He kept the Bruins in their own end with a simple, smart pass– showing NHL-quality poise in the process.
Carrick signs his deal. (Photo credit: @CapitalsPR)
Capitals defensive prospect Connor Carrick has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the club, according to Mike Vogel. Via CSN’s Chuck Gormley, Carrick’s deal carries a $550,000 NHL salary in years one and two, and a cap hit of $575,000 in year three.
While 2012 first-round pick Tom Wilson received all the glory last year after appearing in Hershey’s and Washington’s playoff series, Carrick — Wilson’s teammate on the Plymouth Whalers — led all OHL defenseman in playoff scoring and earned himself a post-season invite to the Bears as well. Caps assistant coach Calle Johansson believes that Carrick, with the right coaching, has the potential to be a top-four defenseman in the NHL, which would be a huge return on investment on a fifth-round pick.
A lot of good material from my interview with Carrick ended up on the cutting room floor. He’s a thoughtful, charming dude, motivated to make the most of his opportunity in hockey. My favorite part of the conversation was a story he shared about playing playoff hockey against the London Knights with Tom Wilson.