For The Capitals Young Players It's About Finding Consistency

All about consistency!
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals / G Fiume/GettyImages

To be a great player in the NHL you have to be consistent. Every night, you have to show up and work hard. If you do those things your skill should show up and you should be able to put up some goals and points. This is true for everyone. Whether you're a tip, top of the line player who will score you a point per game, or a fourth liner who has to scrap to get everything he gets.

Consistency is key!

The Washington Capitals currently have at least a couple of young players who need to find this consistency. You could probably add more guys to this, but the guys we will mostly talk about today are Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas. The two guys who have shown the most as young guys and the two guys who have played very well recently.

In the last ten games Connor McMichael has 5 goals and 9 points. Aliaksei Protas is not far behind with 2 goals and 8 points. They are among the leaders on the Capitals in the last ten games. McMichael is tied for third in scoring behind only Alex Ovechkin and Dylan Strome, Protas is fifth behind Anthony Mantha. McMichael's 5 goals also only trails Ovechkin's 6 since the 8th of February.

Another young player who deserves a mention is Hendrix Lapierre who has come up and scored three goals in the team's last two games. In those two games Lapierre has more goals and Strome, Tom Wilson, Max ]Pacioretty, or just to make this go a little quicker, anyone not named Ovechkin, McMichael or Mantha. Not bad!

These younger players have shown what they can do at the NHL level. They have shown that not only can they be good players, but impact players. Players that you have to watch out for. Earlier this season, and now again recently, those guys, being McMichael and Protas, along with Mantha have been on a line that on certain nights dominate. They play hard, skate well, get good zone time and generate chances.

We've seen what they can do when they are going good. Now we need to see them be consistent. So far this year, it's been up and down.

That's not even a bad thing. Why? Because they still are young. It does take time to fully develop as a player. But now is the time. Right now. The end of this season and this is something we will also need to watch for the start next season as well. Be consistent.

And why am I saying this? We'll stay with McMichael and Protas.

McMichael did not start the season very well. In his first five games he had just one point, a goal. Fine, whatever. I just remember him not looking that great and he was what he was a couple of years ago. A fine player, had a little trouble finishing. And Protas was not any better. In his first 9 games of the season he had just one assist. Leading me to believe at the time that he was just not an effective NHL player.

But then they both got going. In the next 22 games they were both among the team leaders in scoring. Protas had 10 asssists, second on the team, and 13 points fourth on the Capitals. McMichael had 12 points which was fifth on the Capitals, and five goals. Only three guys had more and he was tied with Alexander Ovechkin at the time.

It looked like they had got it. They have arrived, they were full time NHLers now and they were making an impact every single night. But, consistency.

After putting up a great twenty plus game stretch they then fall back down to earth hard for the next twenty plus games. In his next 22 games Protas had zero goals and 5 assists. McMichael was even worse with 1 goal and two points over his next twenty games. This is a stretch that went from mid December to the beginning of February.

This needs to be said. There are very few players who can score every night. Pretty much every player in the NHL will go through slumps. The best go through rough periods. What makes a good NHL player is about making those slumps as short as possible. If you want to be a good, impactful player you can't consistently be inconsistent. That's a good way to quickly turn yourself into an average player and I'm pretty sure the Capitals and Capitals fans want more from these guys than average.

That's why I think the end of this season and the start of next season is important for guys like McMichael and Protas. Because they have figured things out again recently. We showed you their stats in their last ten games. Now take this last bit of the season and continue that until game 82. That will be a good 34-35 game stretch.

Can there be slumps? Yes, of course. But instead of having 15 or 20+ game slumps, turn those into 6 or 7 game slumps. You can go goalless or pointless in that amount of games and then answer with 5 in the next 7. You can't go 20+ games and have 2 points or something close to that.

Every player is going to go through the rough patches. To be a good NHL player you have to make the patches as short as possible. I think that's what we should be looking for from guys on the Capitals like McMichael and Protas, and maybe Lapierre sometime soon.

They can slump. We're not looking for point per game pace for 82 games. But if they do what they have this season they are what? 30-45 point players in the NHL? That's fine. But not what the Capitals are hoping for I'm sure.

Find that consistency and then they can turn themselves into good, reliable NHL pieces who can at least put up 60+ points seasons.

That's what we should watch for. They didn't start well. They had a good 20 game period. They had a bad 20 game period. Now finish with a good 30+ game period. Then after that, start next season on a good run.

For McMichael and Protas, and maybe another guy or two, find that consistency. If they can do that the Capitals have themselves a couple of really nice players for their future.