Does Connor McMichael Still Have Finishing Issues?

Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Connor McMichael has scored two goals in the Washington Capitals first ten games of the season. I think if you would have told me that before the season started I would have taken that. I think if you told the majority of Capitals fans that they would have easily accepted that as well. It’s not the best, but it is pretty good for a young player trying to find his way in the NHL.

I think that is what this season is about for McMichael anyways. A couple of seasons ago he had a nice rookie year. He played in 68 games in the 2021-22 season. While his stats didn’t light up the world they were still okay. He scored 9 goals and registered 18 points.

On most nights that season he looked good. He brought some speed to the lineup, he created chances for his teammates and had plenty of chances himself too. That season he had 113 individual scoring chances, which was second on the team that season. Of all the big names and talented players on the Capitals the then 20/21 year-old was second on the team in scoring chances. That’s not nothing.

The problem there is when you have that many chances you hope to score more. Again, he was twenty. It was his first season in the top hockey league in the world. He was still able to score goals. You give him a break that year.

But at some point you do need to see an ability to score more consistently and capitalize on the chances you are getting or creating.

Two goals in ten games is an improvement. Early in the season that puts McMichael on a 15-18 goal pace. Before the season started that’s where I said he needed to be. A good/solid season from McMichael would be a 16-20 goals with potentially 40-50 points. In terms of goals, he is on pace for that.

How many goals are by his doing though?

I want to make something clear before I say anything else. I am not taking away from McMichael. He has two goals. It doesn’t matter how, it only matters how many. That saying will always be true. There is a player on the Capitals who is the best goal scorer of all time. Forgive me, his name escapes me. Starts with an O. Ozolinsh or something, whatever.

That guy has scored a ton of goals and will seemingly, likely break the all time goal scoring record. I’m going to guess there is a lucky goal or two in there. Guess what? Nobody cares. No one cares how many lucky goals number eight has scored. No one cares how many times he blasted a shot several feet wide, bounced it off a defender and past the goalie. Not many people care how many empty net goals he has scored in his career. He has hundreds and hundreds of goals. That’s what matters.

That being said. There is a difference between Alex Ovechkin and Connor McMichael. In case you didn’t know that. Ovechkin has scored hundreds of goals. He has proven that he can score, against anyone, playing with anyone, and for nearly two decades now. McMichael hasn’t. Until he does, it needs to be considered when talking about him.

Back to how many goals are his doing.

The first goal of his season came against the Flames back on the 16th of October. You obviously have to give him credit, he put the puck on the net. That being said, there was not much else to do in that situation. I’ve watched this goal a lot. I still can’t tell how this puck went in. It doesn’t look like it went in off a defender. It looks like the goalie Markstrom just whiffed on it. Markstrom is a goalie who has questions around him. He can be great, he can also have very questionable moments. That puck probably is stopped 99 times out of 100 for NHL goalies. Give McMichael credit, he shot it, it went in. But that was a lucky goal. I can’t say he is great at finishing his chances off of that goal.

One goal is mostly from McMichael alone. That goal was vs the New Jersey Devils on the 25th of October in a 6-4 win. That was a very nice move and finish off a 2 on 1 with Anthony Mantha. Mantha got the puck over to McMichael and he was then one on one with the Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek and squeaked a backhander passed the former Capitals goalie.

If you want to look at this with a glass half full mentality, that was a nice finish. Showing us, that he has the ability. He’s shown us he has the ability, how about the consistency?

Getting chances is one thing, finishing them is another. If you hear Capitals TV talking about him getting chances, understand that has not been McMichael’s problem. We know he was among the top of the team in getting chances a couple of seasons ago. And this season he has returned to the top of the team in chances again.

In the ten games played this season he has 22 individual chances. That’s second on the team, behind only Tom Wilson and his 24 chances. Ahead of leading goal scorer Dylan Strome at 19. Ahead of Evgeny Kuznetsov who has 17 chances. And yes, ahead of the “Great Eight” Ovechkin who has 18 chances.

McMichael also leads the entire team in high danger attempts with 12. Strome has 11, Wilson has 10, Ovechkin has 9.

He is still getting chances, and in my eyes he has finished just one of those chances. The other goal wasn’t even really a chance. Just a good break. Good for him, consider that a reward for playing well and getting chances.

But he has still had a lot of other chances that he has shot into goalies pads.Or just like the other night, he skated down the middle of the ice, in the slot, the scariest area of the ice, could have put the game away, and fired it wide. Another chance gone by.

I’m hoping in March I can write a piece about McMichael. I’m hoping that piece is saying what a great season he had. A very good 25 goal season, maybe even more. Contrary to what some people think when they read, people saying things like I’m saying, I’m not rooting against the guy. I never like watching a player with all the ability not reach his full potential. It’s not fun. It’s really fun to watch guys figure things out and have great careers.

McMichael could easily still figure things out and become a key players for the Washington Capitals for years and years.

Related Story. Panthers vs. Caps: Date, Time, Betting Odds, Streaming, More. light

But for now he is still getting chances with not a ton of goals to show for it. Until he can consistently score goals off of the chances he gets we have to keep wondering if he can finish at the NHL level.