Martin Fehérváry made his NHL debut in the Capitals’ season opener against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. The 19-year-old Slovak defenseman, the Caps’ second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, made the team after an impressive Training Camp.
“That’s one of the more enjoyable parts of the job is when a guy plays his first game” head coach Todd Reirden said after the Capitals morning skate. “I usually don’t talk too much about it until after the game but for me, I just wanted to let him know yesterday. We got into the hotel, and I just grabbed him and wanted to let him know, ‘You understand that you’re playing [Wednesday].’ And he was like, ‘That’s what I thought,’ so he is obviously an unassuming kid. He really works hard, extremely hard, and he is a great skater. That was a fun conversation to have, and regardless of how the game goes for him tonight, it’s a great accomplishment. For anyone to play a game in the NHL is remarkable, and I’m looking forward to watching him play tonight and then shaking his hand after he has accomplished a lifelong dream.”
After the game on Wednesday, Fehérváry got a special honor in the Capitals locker room from Alex Ovechkin.
“[A]t the end of the game, he wins our award for our team hard hat,” Todd Reirden said. The award usually goes to the unsung player of the game. “It was great. Alex Ovechkin always delivers the first one and he gave it to Marty today. That just shows how important it is for our guys to have contributions from everyone, whether it’s a 19-year-old playing his first game, or guys who are getting further along in their career and still figuring out how to score goals, and did as well tonight. It’s a fun group to be a part of and I think our culture that we’ve established over the last five or six years is something special and it differentiates us.”
Reirden revealed that the hard hat was a Washington Nationals batting helmet to show support to the local baseball team. The Nats won the NL Wild Card game on Tuesday, with Evgeny Kuznetsov in attendance, to advance to the NLDS and faceoff against the Los Angeles Dodgers. “It will change during the year, but that’s what we went with,” Reirden said, adding that it was “fitting” for right now.
Fehérváry’s nerves and inexperience showed early in the second period when he fell down going for a lob pass, giving up a breakaway attempt to the Blues’ Robert Thomas.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 3, 2019
After the next faceoff, he took a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck out of play from the defensive zone.
Otherwise, the rookie played well in 13:35 of ice time from the third pairing, showing off his impressive puck-moving and skating ability as the game wore on. According to the Capitals’ Mike Vogel, Fehérváry is the 10th Washington defenseman in team history to debut in the NHL as a teenager.
“He’s 19 years old, so it’s pretty special to see that going on,” Reirden said.
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