Hershey update: 14-6-1-5, 2nd in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 2-0-0-0
Connor Carrick continued his offensive tear this week with two goals in Hershey's win over Binghamton on Saturday. Last week, I wrote that it would not be surprising to see Carrick get recalled by the Caps based on his current play. Sure enough, on Thursday the Caps announced they had recalled the young defenseman to Washington, swapping him for Aaron Ness.
Whether he will actually get into a game, however, remains to be seen. Ness was with the team for five games and did not break into the lineup once. Brooks Orpik remains sidelined by a nagging injury meaning Carrick is the seventh defenseman and the "next man up" should anything happen to the top six. The amount of confidence he's playing with right now may just earn him an NHL game on this assignment just to see what he can do.
“He’s got a lot of confidence right now,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “I don’t know if I’m going to put him in or not. We’ll just see. If someone gets hurt maybe he goes in and shows us what he can do. If nothing else, we get a little bit of a snapshot. Even in practice you can tell he’s got lots of confidence and swagger because he’s playing well.”
You can see highlights of Carrick's two-goal game from Saturday here:
Note: On Carrick's second goal, the announcer incorrectly identifies Sean Collins as the goal scorer.
Carrick shows supreme confidence in his first goal as he takes the puck off the boards, skates to center, turns his body and unleashes a monster slap shot into the back of the net. Unfortunately, he also demonstrates some of the defensive issues that remain his biggest question mark. Carrick's weak back check late in the second period allows for the Binghamton goal.
Also in the video is Riley Barber contributing a goal and an assist. He was able to win the battle in front of the net and sweep in a rebound for the goal. Those type of effort plays are hard to teach so it is encouraging to see it from a player in his first professional season. His assist came off a 3-on-2 as the forward line passed the puck with perfect precision with Chandler Stephenson finishing the play off.
One other thing to watch in the video, check out Madison Bowey's big hit. Then remind yourself that he is 20 years old and this is his first year as a pro. Impressive stuff.
Hershey's second game of the week provided much less scoring, but it did provide shootout goals from Carrick and Boyd. You can see it here:
In injury news, Liam O'Brien returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing 12 games with a sprained knee. He tallied two assists in his return.
Hershey head coach Troy Mann also said Monday that Jakub Vrana was ahead of schedule in his recovery. Vrana was expected to be out until February after undergoing surgery on his wrist, but he has resumed skating and it appears he could be ready to return by January.
Other prospect notes:
Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney was a guest on the Dec. 11 Hockey Prospects Show on Sirius NHL to talk about the team's prospects. In an interview that lasted a little over 20 minutes, Mahoney talked about Ilya Samsonov, Jonas Siegenthaler, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Zach Sanford and Chandler Stephenson.
In the college ranks, Sanford squared off with Thomas DiPauli on Dec. 10 as Boston College played Notre Dame. While the Irish got the better of the Eagles in a 4-3 win, Sanford stole the show for Boston College with an assist on each of his team's three goals. DiPauli was held scoreless, snapping a three-game point streak.
Connor Hobbs and Colby Williams continue to produce for Regina of the WHL. Though Hobbs saw his nine-game point streak end on Sunday, he still tallied two goals on the week. He now has 10, tied for second among defensemen in the WHL.
Williams had one goal and also assisted on Hobbs' goal on Friday. His goal in Saturday's game was his 100th WHL point and it just so happened to come in his 200th career game.
In South Carolina, the Stingrays were without goalie prospect Vitek Vanecek who left to join the Czech Republic junior team in preparation for the IIHF World Junior championships. He will be gone for the next three weeks as he is expected to start for the Czech Republic in the tournament.
MORE CAPITALS: Two former Caps named to IIHF Hall of Fame class