Ice Time & Inconsistency: Head Coach Peter Laviolette Talks Connor McMichael & What’s Hindering The Capitals’ Chances For Winning

On Sunday, Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette spoke to the media following today’s practice. He discussed center Connor McMichael’s loan to the AHL’s Hershey Bears for development purposes and how inconsistency in games is plaguing the Capitals recently.

McMichael was loaned to the Bears this morning as a move Laviolette called “from a development standpoint.” “Play twenty minutes, twenty-two minutes a night, get in the middle of the ice, take faceoffs, power-plays…get some confidence back…Talked to him this morning [and] he was excited to go play some games.”

Laviolette noted that McMichael’s ice time has been low due to not seeing power plays and penalty kills much in the games the 21-year-old has suited up for, saying, “Just probably not enough to have him keep developing…I think it was time. We were waiting for players to get a little bit healthier…just felt it was important to get him playing.”

“He’s just gotta play,” Laviolette expressed on his expectations on McMichael’s time in Hershey. “He’s gotta get out there and he’s gotta have great nights and he’s gotta have good nights, tough nights, and he’s gotta score some goals, and be counted on defensively.”

According to Laviolette, the focus now is on McMichael getting games in with the Bears, increasing ice time, and improving skills “in all situations” as there is no timetable on when he could be recalled back to the Capitals. “I think right now it’s just important that Connor goes in and plays and has some fun, ” he said.

Washington is coming off a 4-0 shutout loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Capital One Arena on Saturday, putting them at a 7-10-3 record on the season. Here recently, the Capitals have been giving up numerous goals early in games and they have voiced the starts “have not been good enough.” “It’s frustrating when you go down early…those are big holes to climb out of,” Laviolette said. “Last night, as I stated and going back and watching it, we started that game really well.”

He explained that the Capitals gave up chances throughout the night and once again reiterated how “we need to get ourselves a lead,” adding, “You can’t be chasing games like that—one, because it’s hard to do and it’s hard to come out of it with wins, but two, it’s taxing mentally and physically.”

The Capitals’ next tilt is Wednesday, hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at Capital One Arena (7:30 PM ET, TNT). Over the coming days during practice, Laviolette mentioned they will be getting guys “back in repetition” who have been out of the lineup and working on specialty teams. He noted that practices will have some “competing a little bit” among guys.

Laviolette said “inconsistencies” have been plaguing the Capitals, especially offensively. He mentioned that it hinders the team’s ability to score early or create and build a lead. “We can’t make excuses for anything…We gotta win hockey games. Period.”

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from Regent University. Della comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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16 Responses to Ice Time & Inconsistency: Head Coach Peter Laviolette Talks Connor McMichael & What’s Hindering The Capitals’ Chances For Winning

  1. Anonymous says:

    Where can we send the HC

  2. GRin430 says:

    They need to see if McMichael can get back on track. If he can, great, bring him back up after The Great Selloff, along with the rest of the Bears under the age of 28 who might have a chance of being decent NHL players.

    If he doesn’t get back on track, he should be offered as part of a package with the vets being dealt in order to increase the return. The Caps aren’t going to get 1st round talent back for the pending UFAs, except for maybe Orlov, who I wouldn’t deal anyway unless his salary demands going forward are crazy (he’s your best all-around defenseman… you’re going to have plenty of cap space after the exodus… pay the man, or lose him to somebody who will pay him). If they include a downtrodden McMichael in a deal with somebody like Eller, they will definitely increase the return, possibly getting a 1st back in what is reported to be a very good draft.

    McMichael’s ceiling is likely “solid middle-six center” but he hasn’t shown that potential at all this year, starting in camp. If the Caps can get a mid-1st pick in this year’s draft in trade for him and a solid vet, that would likely be an upgrade.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I don’t get trading a 21-year old first round draft pick who is still developing. I’ve used this example before, but if they did that, Tom Wilson, others, wouldn’t be on the team.

      • novafyre says:

        I can see the Caps doing it. If it comes down to the trade deadline and we are anywhere near making the playoffs (as in like a Hail Mary) I can see the Caps trading him for a rental vet. In fact, if Osh goes back out (I worry about his durability the way he plays) or if Backy’s return fails or if any of the recovering vets that Lavi is counting on doesn’t have the comeback he expects, I can see McM traded for a rental vet.

      • GRin430 says:

        It really depends on what the returned value is.

        All first-round picks are not equally talented. McMichael was a late first-round pick. He has the chance to be a good player, but he hasn’t shown greatness. He’s a decent NHL skater but not a straight-line speedster nor extremely quick laterally, he doesn’t have spectacular hands or a cannon shot, he isn’t a physical presence. His talent seems pretty typical for a low first-round (or early 2nd round) pick, which is what he was/is.

        If a lottery team in this deep draft stupidly offers their 1st pick for McMichael and pretty much any of the Caps current players except #8, they would almost certainly take it. But also if the Caps believe whatever 1st round pick they get from a non-lottery team will ultimately be better than McMichael will ultimately be, then they would make that trade.

        Say, for instance, that a team on the bubble offers their first pick and maybe even a mid-level prospect for Eller and McMichael, and Caps management either believes the team making the offer won’t ultimately make the playoffs, or if they do make it won’t win the Cup, so will pick in the 15-20 range in this draft. If the Caps believe a pick in the ~15-20th spot in this draft would be a better player than McMichael, then they would — and should — make the trade.

        Again, I’m not suggesting they trade him for some old fart at the deadline. I’m suggesting they package him for a prospect with greater upside, perhaps a couple of years younger and thus riskier — but no risk, no reward.

        The Caps have to consider taking such a risk. This team is not going to win a Stanley Cup in the next 2-3 years with the group of players in DC and Hershey right now: they really lack top-end young talent, since they have drafted so late in the first round (if at all) most of the past 15 years. If they can turn a past late-first-round-pick and an old fart UFA into a top 20 pick this year, they should strongly consider doing it.

        If instead they stand pat and fail to bring in several young players who are significantly better than what they currently have, they’re going to hit a wall and be REALLY bad very soon.

      • redLitYogi says:

        I agree Jon, and the Wilson example is a great one. I think the Caps have already subtly switched from buyer mode to neither-buyer-nor-seller mode over the last two years. We lost many assets chasing after the chimera of continued Cup relevance and now it’s time to admit it’s not happening. Keep McM — I’m sure he’ll find his game and be better than anyone thinks.

      • Jonathan says:

        Agreed. I can’t help but get the impression that some fans raise expectations when a player comes up early, and doesn’t give that player a chance to work through struggles over the period of years even. Wilson did come up early, but his skill set wasn’t fully developed yet, so he got bounced around, especially seeing a lot of time on the fourth line.

        That’s why my point of view was this, “if he’s not ready to play regularly in the NHL, give him his time in Hershey to continue to develop”. I don’t know what Lavi’s problem was, but glad McM has a chance to get more important pro experience.

        • novafyre says:

          I think Lavi’s problem is that he expects all his players to be able to play all positions due to their extensive years and years of experience. He expects them to come in fully cooked because he doesn’t know how to prepare the meal himself.

  3. novafyre says:

    “Laviolette noted that McMichael’s ice time has been low due to not seeing power plays and penalty kills much in the games the 21-year-old has suited up for” Crap. McM has been low man on the totem pole in 5on5.

    If I were McM, I would be excited to be able to go play hockey and not sit in the press box and on the bench. I hope the Bears can rotate him in and give him the playing time that he needs.

    Rays won 3-1. Clay looked great, stopped 37 of 38. To say he was ‘in the net’ for today’s game is really incorrect because he does not play ‘in the net.’ He perches on the edge of the paint and really has to do a lot of traveling. I’d love to hear Brent’s analysis of that. But he made some spectacular stops and got first star of the game. But the real star was the Solar Bear’s goalie, Barone. He was basically their entire team.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      You know this Fyre, but there is a lot of bus rides in the AHL. Vs. Charter flights and top-notch hotels.

      • novafyre says:

        One year friends and I were debating whether a third string QB on a Super Bowl winning team would be satisfied if he had never ever taken a snap. Was the money and ring enough or would he feel that he had been no better than the water boy? We couldn’t come to an agreement but I said that I would not have been satisfied.

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