ARLINGTON, Va. — It’s official: Matthew Phillips has made the Washington Capitals’ opening night roster, and it is well-deserved.
Phillips is coming off an impressive preseason, racking up three points (two goals, one assist) in five preseason games. He looked hungry to prove people that he deserved a spot despite his 5-foot-8 frame.
Matthew Phillips has made the Capitals’ Opening Night roster. He had an incredibly impressive camp, and he earned his spot
— Bailey Johnson (@BaileyAJohnson_) October 9, 2023
“I don’t know about proving people wrong there’s also a lot of people that I would like to say that I proved right,” Phillips said. “I’m just really excited to be here and they gave me a great opportunity and put a lot of trust in me so I just tried to kind of do my best every day.”
The 25-year-old had only three games of NHL experience with the Calgary Flames coming into D.C. He had a breakout year with the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers last year with 76 points (36 goals, 40 assists) in 66 games. Coming into the nation’s capital he says was exciting, but also different.]
“It’s something totally different for me. I’ve kind of known the same thing for like seven years. So it’s kind of a different situation but the coaches are very thorough. They explain everything really well and everyone’s very approachable, so it’s easy to get questions answered and get comfortable as the day is going,” Phillips said.
Over the course of the preseason, Phillips has been playing on the left side with Sonny Milano and Dylan Strome. When put together, the trio has arguably been Washington’s best line of the exhibition slate. The Calgary, Alberta native fits in nicely with that combo because he is the guy that does the dirty work in the corners.
“They’re able to read off one another in executing really, really tight spaces,” Caps head coach Spencer Carbery said. “What skill players like that have a tendency to do is that they’re reading where the next play is going and where spaces he’s up at their level in terms of that and that’s why they’re able to generate in really tight five-on-five o-zone situations, little holes and little creases and little picks to be able to create offensive in really, really tight spaces.”
“It helps a lot coming into a new situation like this with two guys that are awesome players and established NHL players and they’re super smart, extremely skilled and it’s been pretty beneficial for me,” Phillips said. “I think the three of us kind of see the ice in a similar way, so it’s been really good.”
One word to describe 2016 sixth-round selection is a buzzsaw. He is noticeable every shift because he is moving his feet and is relentless on pucks, which was the type of player that the Caps desperately needed in their lineup last season.
Matthew Phillips has made the Capitals, all 5-foot-7, 140 pounds of him. He’s all smiles. pic.twitter.com/wgetQP7eBy
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) October 9, 2023
“Even though you know he’s obviously a smaller guy, he’s smart enough to put himself in positions to win puck battles to create space for himself,” Caps winger T.J. Oshie said. “He’s been playing with some big dogs. He’s been playing some quality power play time. So very happy for him and looking forward to getting to know him a little bit more.”
‘The Capitals made several roster moves on Monday ahead of the 5PM deadline, but will announce final roster Wednesday morning.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) October 9, 2023
The Capitals open up the regular season on Oct. 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena.
By Jacob Cheris