The Washington Capitals picked up their first win of the 2023-24 season on Monday night as they took down the Calgary Flames on home ice. While the two standings points are perhaps most important in the grand scheme of the campaign, the victory was also Spencer Carbery’s first ever as an NHL head coach.
The rookie bench boss has plenty of wins under his belt at both the ECHL and AHL pro levels but has only overseen wins in the NHL as an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After the 3-2 shootout victory, Carbery and assistant coach Mitch Love were both presented game pucks by Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin to mark their inaugural wins at the top level.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 17, 2023
“First win as a head coach,” Ovechkin said. The Great Eight then delivered Carbery a puck and gave him a hug. “Oh! Come here too,” Ovechkin added before turning to Love to do the same.
Carbery was asked in his media availability postgame what it felt like to get his first win out of the way. The head coach was a little less concerned about the personal milestone and more hoping that getting it out of the way would help his team moving forward.
“It wasn’t comfortable for 65 minutes plus the shootout,” Carbery said. “But maybe in a weird way it’s a bit of a weight off of our staff and our team. Maybe that just kind of lifts a little bit away because it just feels like at times we’re just pressing and trying to make something happen and it has gone haywire for us at times.”
The 41-year-old head coach certainly did not enjoy seeing his team go down 2-0 with a 18-3 shot discrepancy after twenty minutes but goals from Phillips and Connor McMichael got his team to the shootout where Kuemper and Evgeny Kuznetsov did the rest.
Before being hired by the Capitals in late May, Carbery had amassed 311 wins in the professional ranks as head coach with both the South Carolina Stingrays and Hershey Bears. Carbery is currently the youngest head coach in the NHL and established his team’s 2023-24 mantra as Something to prove in his first season in charge behind the bench.
“We have a lot of players and staff in a lot of different scenarios,” Carbery said. “Whether you’re Alex Ovechkin, Connor McMichael, Spencer Carbery, Kenny McCudden, Kirk Muller, Mitch Love — just sort of have a mindset coming into this year of, ‘We’ve got something to prove.’ All in different ways, collectively as a team and individually. I just felt like it resonates.”
Carbery will try and grab his first career road win as head coach when the Capitals travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators on Wednesday night. Before the team left, Carbery put his forward lines into a blender to try and make that next win a little easier to come by.
Screenshot via @Capitals/X
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