Awesome Photo: Chris Gordon
The love for Nate Schmidt ’round these parts is well-documented. Possession monster, always smiling blah blah blah. Enough already, RMNB, right? Never.
Instead of talking about his possession prowess or his facial expression, today we’ll look at game clips to illustrate what makes Schmidt such an effective defender: his skating and passing. These qualities make Schmidt a solid player. They are why his possession numbers are glowing.
Stay-at-home, shot-blocking defensemen are becoming obsolete in today’s NHL. Instead, defenders who can move the puck with their feet or with a tape-to-tape breakout pass are growing in value. Schmidt is a shining example of the latter.
In the first clip, the Caps are on the penalty kill. Schmidt reads the pass by the Flames player, steps up, and skates the puck into the neutral zone. He throws a pass towards Jay Beagle with a little too much sauce on it. But the Caps were on the PK, so we’ll cut him some slack because the team wasn’t in full attack mode.
How often do you see a defender cut off this pass, gain control, and then skate the puck not only to safety, but into an offensively threatening situation? Many times here you’d see a player simply try to tip the pass off course or, at most, cut the pass off and dump it out of the zone.
In the next clip, Schmidt’s plus skating ability gets him out of what would be a tough situation for a player who might not as strong of a skater. A Flames player comes heavy on the forecheck, but Schmidt turns on a dime and is gone. He skates the puck up ice and puts a pass on his teammate’s stick.
You’ll notice that the Flames forechecker caught the other Caps napping a bit. They aren’t in good position for a pass from Schmidt when he’s behind the net. No worries, Nate’s got this, y’all.
These are two simple plays that show why Schmidt is such a valuable asset for the Caps. His skating and passing abilities ensure the Caps have the puck and are on the attack more often than not when he’s on the ice.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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