Not that long ago, Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt was sitting as a healthy scratch for head coach Barry Trotz after playing in the Capitals’ first two games; the second being a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Schmidt was then replaced by free agent acquisition Taylor Chorney, who started the year as the Capitals’ seventh defenseman.
It was difficult for Schmidt, who was expected to be a key part of the Caps’ defense, to sit for five of the Capitals’ first nine games. “In the competitive side of things, obviously you want to be in the game. This is a team game and you’ve got to make sure you’re trying to be a part of it in any way possible. You try to help out the guys and get guys in the lineup get even better so they can go out and get two points every night.”, Schmidt told the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshdyan.
Schmidt then got a chance to redeem himself in the Capitals’ tenth game, a 2-1 overtime win against the Florida Panthers. But it was in the Capitals’ next game versus the New York Rangers that the 24-year old native of St. Cloud, Minnesota truly broke through. In an eventual 5-2 loss, Schmidt was arguably, the Caps’ best player. He moved the puck well, was sound defensively, and used his speed to assist on a beautiful goal by Alex Ovechkin:
Since then, Schmidt has played every game, seeing time on the top-pairing with John Carlson in the wake of Brooks Orpik’s minor injury. Schmidt was a healthy scratch because he was moved to the right side, and as a left-handed shooter, it took him some time to learn how to play his off-side. He has taken full advantage of his playing time and is one of the Capitals’ most-promising young blueliners.
By Michael Fleetwood