Hendrix Lapierre Breaks Through AHL Rookie Wall: “He’s Elevated His play, He Got Rewarded With Three Goals Tonight”

It was a relatively quiet two-month stretch for Washington Capitals first round draft pick Hendrix Lapierre. He scored his 10th goal of the 2022-23 season on January 14, but then went all of February and most of March without a goal.

That was then and this is now. Lapierre’s two-month scoring drought has not only come to an end, but it looks like he is finally finding his stride and returning to the high level of play he demonstrated at the beginning of the season. The AHL rookie even recorded his first professional hat trick on Saturday night.

“With any young player, you see the peaks and valleys over the course of the season. We talked about consistency. I thought early on in the season, he had to learn some things. He still has to. But he worked on his game. He’s a student of the game,” said Bears head coach Todd Nelson following Saturday night’s 5-2 victory over the Charlotte Checkers.

A symbolic “wall” is often encountered at some point during most AHL rookies first season, as we touched up two weeks ago (here). The season starts off fairly well, but somewhere along the way their is a sizable drop-off. Production sinks, injuries occur and overall performance diminishes. Lapierre hit that rookie wall at the start of 2023.

“Around January, February, it looked like he hit a wall. He wasn’t moving his feet like he was around Christmas time,” added Nelson. “And then he got banged up a bit and I think that may have helped out, just to get away from the game and get a mental break and a physical break from the game. Because the way he is skating right now, over the last couple of weeks, has been outstanding. He’s elevated his play, he got rewarded with three goals tonight. That’s great to see.”


Lapierre’s scoring drought came to an end on March 29 against the Marlies in Toronto. Lapierre had gone 15 games and more than two months without a goal before he slid a rather harmless shot between the legs of Marlies netminder Joseph Woll.

It seems like most scoring droughts often come to an end with a bit of good luck. Players return to their top level of play well before the scoring actually returns, but the puck never seems to find the back of the net until a fortunate break occurs and the flood gates open.

The scoresheet says they were goals and that’s all that matters in the end. The more important thing is that Lapierre’s scoring drought has come to an end and the AHL rookie wall appears to now be in the rear-view mirror.

Lapierre now has five goals and an assist in his last six games and is heating up at the most optimal point in the season for the Bears.


Also on the good news front is the number of games Lapierre has logged this season. We talked about Lapierre’s shortened seasons to date (here). His season high in games played prior to this season was just 54 games.

Lapierre has now played in 58 games this season, the most in his entire hockey career, with three regular season games remaining and the entire postseason ahead for Lapierre and the Bears. He could easily reach as many as 70 games or more, depending on the Bears postseason run.

Things are back on track for #29.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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9 Responses to Hendrix Lapierre Breaks Through AHL Rookie Wall: “He’s Elevated His play, He Got Rewarded With Three Goals Tonight”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Having talent AND Being a “student of the game” is a dangerous combo.

  2. KimRB says:

    The old fable of the Tortoise and the Hare has a very appropriate moral to it. Strong and steady wins the race. Sometimes people are too quick to label a player a bust, after struggling for a season or two. Patience has its rewards.

    • horn73 says:

      I feel like I don’t even know who you are anymore…

      It seems you want the Caps to be the Bears and play all the young guys…now it is about patience (which I agree with).

      So, which Bears should have been in DC this season?

      Anyway, glad that we finally agree. One more year in AHL for both SMM and LaPierre and then lets go!! The rest, Beck, Protas, Snively…yawn. I’ll let y’all figure out the 4th liners.

      • KimRB says:

        I’ve always felt that way, Horny. I haven’t changed anything, you just misinterpreted what I wrote. You see everything in black and white. I see it as somewhere in between. If a prospect is ready to play in the NHL then play him. If he ain’t ready, send him down. That’s how I’ve thought since I started following prospects in 1994.

  3. GRin430 says:

    He needs more physical and mental maturity before he’ll be ready for full-time NHL play, but the basic tools are there for him to be a very successful NHL forward.

    Where and when he will get his chance is still TBD…

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s good to see him survive an AHL season. That’s a major step forward in his development

  5. dwgie26 says:

    I have always liked Lappy’s attitude and work ethic. Was sad to see him hit that wall, but great to see him back. I still think he is a year away from NHL but could be call-up material next year. He is waivers exempt so that helps progress him for another year.

  6. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!

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