With 69 career games already under his belt, Caps center Connor McMichael is itching to be a regular starter.
The Caps 2019 first round pick scored nine goals in 68 appearances last season but has been a healthy scratch in all four games so far in the 2022-23 campaign. McMichael said after practice Tuesday at MedStar Capitals Iceplex that he’s used to having to be patient to get game reps.
“It’s nothing I haven’t been through before,” he said. “I just got to kind of wait my turn and stay ready and stay focused. And that’s what I’ve been doing.”
McMichael could get a chance in Ottawa on Thursday, with fellow center Evgeny Kuznetsov suspended one game for high-sticking Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs during Monday night’s 6-4 victory.
McMichael could also find himself in the lineup with Connor Brown being further evaluated for a lower-body injury he sustained during Monday’s win.
Head coach Peter Laviolette acknowledged that both McMichael and Joe Snively could be called upon.
“We’ve got guys that are itching to play if it comes to that,” he said. “Snively’s been working hard, McMichael’s working hard. These guys want to play. They don’t like being out of the lineup and are coming off of good training camps and so they want to get back in.”
Connor said at the present moment he’s utilizing his time with the team to keep his conditioning up.
“I’m just focused on doing what I can do out there and doing extra things in practice that keep my conditioning ready for when I do get into get into the game,” he said.
Still, McMichael said he stays hungry to remain a regular part of the Caps lineup.
“Especially when you’ve experienced it before,” he said. “You want to get back to that point and be a regular guy in the lineup and help the team win. That’s what I’m focused on doing, and I hope I can do that pretty soon here.”
By Jordan Bondurant