“This game is all about confidence,” Brett Connolly recently said to the Associated Press’s Stephen Whyno. “When you’re confident, you’re a completely different player and when you don’t you’re not a good player.”
While things are going great for Connolly (he tied his career high in goals on February 9th), Jakub Vrana appears to be confused why he even got called up to Washington on Friday – a troubling development for the Capitals’ top prospect.
“I don’t know where my game is right now,” Vrana said to The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan after practice Friday. “I get scratched last week [in Hershey] and now I’m in Washington.”
The 13th overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft was scratched last Saturday, in a February 11 game against the Hartford Wolf Pack which the Bears won 4-2. The game was the second of a weekend three-in-three. While the Bears’ Troy Mann arguably could have been giving their star player a break, Vrana appears to have taken the decision as a negative critique of his play.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) February 11, 2017
Vrana began the 2016-17 season on fire. After the first two months of the season, Vrana was the AHL’s third-leading goal scorer, tallying nine goals in his first 18 games of the season.
On December 1, Vrana received his first career call-up to the Capitals. “I’m very pumped,” he said ahead of his first NHL game.
Vrana tallied three points in his first seven NHL games, dazzling with his stick-handling ability and nose for the net. In his final five NHL games, Vrana went pointless. He was scratched two straight games while Trotz admitted his play had fallen off.
“We’re going to do what’s best for the player, as well as we’ve got to win hockey games,” Trotz said in January. “We’ve got to balance that, and that’s what we’re going to do, whatever’s best for his development and us winning, we’ll do that balance.”
Since being sent down to Hershey, Vrana has not quite been the same player, tallying four goals in 15 games. Vrana appears to be scuffling, especially lately, tallying only three points in his last eight games.
Now Vrana has re-joined the Capitals after their bye week, where the team will play five of their next six games on the road – including back-to-back road games Saturday in Detroit and Sunday in New York.
Trotz said Sanford would play in Detroit. Taking it one game at a time beyond that.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 17, 2017
Headline photo: Bruce Bennett
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