“That’s My Natural Position and That’s Where I’m Looking to Perform”: Connor McMichael Talks Playing Center, Zach Fucale Evaluates His Play in the Capitals’ First Preseason Game

Della Young/NoVa Caps

The Washington Capitals kicked off the 2022-23 season with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena in their first preseason contest. While the preseason may or may not mean much to some, it offers a number of veteran and prospective players the chance to show themselves to the Caps’ coaching staff. Among those who saw ice time Sunday were 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael and goaltender Zach Fucale.

McMichael, all of 21-years old, saw time at the second-line Center position, after playing mostly on the wing in his first full NHL campaign last year. “I’ve said this before, we brought in a lot of really good players this summer, and there’s gonna be competitions for certain spots and I know that’s kind of the position I’m in with other guys, and I’m looking to do that”, McMichael said. “I mean my whole life I’ve played center, other than a handful of times, so that’s my natural position and that’s where I’m looking to perform.

The former London Knight, however, also emphasized the value of being able to slot in at different spots on the ice. “No, for sure”, said McMichael, “I mean it’s always good when guys can be versatile and play up and down the lineup different positions, so that’s something I pride myself on, a winger goes down I can fill that role, a center goes down I can also step in, so I think that’s a big part of my game”.

Head Coach Peter Laviolette entrusted the Ajax, Canada native with special teams responsibilities in 15:55 of ice time; he played 2:20 on the power play, while seeing 1:53 on the penalty kill. “No, that was awesome”, McMichael said, expressing his appreciation for the responsibility handed to him, “Last year I didn’t get many opportunities, so just to get to show what I can do on the power play, that meant a lot, and obviously I was on the PK tonight too so I like both of those roles and I like how the coaches are trusting me out there so hopefully I can stick to it”, he finished.

Fucale, meanwhile, stopped 15 of 17 shots faced in 30:04 of game time, being pulled in the second period. The former Montreal Canadiens farmhand and one of the feel-good stories last season for the Caps made a number of key saves, including 14 of 15 at even-strength.

“I felt pretty good, hitting my spots”, Fucale reflected, “Couple things I can definitely work on on those goals, but overall a pretty good start to the season and training camp.”

Fucale, who is 27 and made his NHL debut last season, is entering the 2022-23 looking to be the Caps’ number three netminder, with the starter and backup positions at the NHL club filled by default. “The more the seasons roll by, the spot I’m in right now, is important”, he admitted, “Because you need a lot of depth throughout the season, so I take that as a challenge, and it’s important for me to show that I can play and that’s what I work for every day.”

By Michael Fleetwood

 

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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2 Responses to “That’s My Natural Position and That’s Where I’m Looking to Perform”: Connor McMichael Talks Playing Center, Zach Fucale Evaluates His Play in the Capitals’ First Preseason Game

  1. novafyre says:

    Glad to see Lavi finally giving him a chance at center. Now, we’ll have to see if he sticks around and plays in the final two preseason games or if he gets shunted off to Hershey. I don’t think he’s subject to waivers.

  2. Dan+Hornbaker says:

    If they send him to Hershey, whoa they’d be loaded. I can seee a year of Hershey doing him good, but I think they keep him up

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