Key Capitals offseason addition Connor Brown is already showing during Training Camp just how valuable he could be to the team this season. The 28-year-old winger started his tenure in DC by being the first option to fill in on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov for the injured Tom Wilson.
Wednesday, when TJ Oshie had to leave a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings due to injury, Brown was called upon to step up into a bigger role yet again. He filled in on the Capitals’ first power play unit in the bumper spot where Oshie usually resides and scored the game-winning goal.
The former two-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL looked like a natural in the spot and that’s partly due to the man that he replaced. Brown says he has gotten advice from Oshie on how best to play that very important spot on the Caps’ man advantage.
“I like that spot,” Brown said postgame. “Osh has kind of been helping me out with playing that spot because he’s been doing it for a long time. I’m picking his brain on a few things. Hope he’s okay. It was nice to pot one.”
Since Oshie arrived in DC for the 2015-16 season, only Alex Ovechkin has more power play goals for the Capitals. The 35-year-old Oshie has struggled with injuries in recent seasons so it will be key that the team has a backup option that isn’t too far of a dropoff in terms of quality. Brown looks to be that option and is learning the intricacies of it.
“Just setting yourself up, little spacings where you’re going to be open, and stuff like that,” Brown said. “It was nice to capitalize on one. Feeling more and more comfortable in that spot.”
Wednesday was also Brown’s first-ever game action skating on the top line with Ovi and Kuzy. The line had some rough patches in the first two periods but really turned it on late and created most of the team’s scoring chances at five-on-five.
“I thought we got some good offensive zone time in the third. First and second period not as much as we would have liked. It was nice to get it going in the third, get to know playing with those guys, and build on it.”
The Capitals out-attempted the Wings 24 to 9 and out-scoring chanced them 11 to 4 in the third and the top line was responsible for a good portion of that work. The line overall finished with four total points in the game.
“Those first two periods I felt like I was thinking a little too much,” Brown said. “By the time the third rolled around I felt more comfortable and it felt like we were sustaining offense a little better and making plays. I’m sure they’re feeling me out in our first game together. You can’t really replicate games in practice as much as you can try. That being said, I thought we had a good third period and it’s just building off of that.”
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