Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
The 2018-19 regular season is nearing the end. With less than a month left before the Stanley Cup Playoffs, teams are pushing for postseason positioning while others are working just to get in. The Washington Capitals have been in the top of the Metropolitan division for most of the season. After they steamrolled over the Boston Bruins by a score of 7-0 on that electric Banner Raising Night, the Capitals were off to a slow start due to the lengthy suspension handed to forward Tom Wilson and numerous injuries all while being in the midst of an adjustment period after head coach Todd Reirden stepped in to replace Barry Trotz, who resigned from his position on June 18 and signed a five-year contract with the New York Islanders three days later, that lead into a difficult January. In addition, the Capitals were not used to playing as many games as they did last season, so it is understandable that they hit a rock in the road during the middle of their journey. Throughout the many line changes that have occurred this season, forward Brett Connolly has remained pretty consistent and has already set career-highs this season.
Currently riding on 19 goals and 40 points overall in 72 games this season, the Capitals right-winger has been talked about a lot this season, which begs the question: what makes the 26-year old so unique to the Capitals?
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He has helped boost that third line hustle with forwards Andre Burakovsky, forward Carl Hagelin, and center Lars Eller, which has amassed over 40 goals combined just this season alone. All of them have stepped up their game and that will help the team immensely with the Stanley Cup Playoffs three weeks away. During last Thursday’s 5-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, he collected two goals and an assist. Connolly, who has two goals and four points in his last two outings, has not had a three-point game since a 5-4 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on February 9. His offensive nature is very versatile. For the most part, he can be a clean player, but can still get rough when needed.
Connolly is a Stanley Cup Champion, who had nine points (including six goals) throughout the Stanley Cup Playoff run, including two goals and three points in Stanley Cup Final. One of those points was the primary assist on Eller’s Stanley Cup-clinching goal in Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
By staying consistent on the ice for the final two and a half weeks of the season, he can carry this momentum and easily surpass his numbers from last year’s postseason. Connolly has been an asset to the Capitals. At the end of the year, his contract will expire and he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency; however, if this level of productivity continues, it is very possible that he could sign on a long-term deal with Washington. The fact that he has expressed a lot of interest in staying put and that General Manager Brian MacLellan has stated that he wanted Connolly back for the foreseeable future is a positive sign for the Capitals and their fans.
By Della Young