If you are looking for a possible x-factor for the Capitals-Maple Leafs series, Barry Trotz has one for you. It’s just not someone that you would expect.
Washington is expected to play its normal lineup for Game 1 on Thursday. In that lineup, there’s only one player with no playoff experience: Brett Connolly.
But, even without any experience, that doesn’t mean Barry Trotz is expecting a long learning curve for the third-line winger.
“I had one conversation individually with him last couple days about what I expect in the playoffs from him,” Trotz said Thursday during the team’s morning skate. “He can be an x-factor for us because he has that sort of sniper's touch.”
Connolly was signed by Washington in the offseason after the Boston Bruins did not issue him a qualifying offer. On a one-year, $850,000 contract, Connolly has been a pleasant surprise for the Caps with 15 goals and 23 points.
Now, Trotz is expecting more.
While it is always important for star players to produce, the postseason is a time when unexpected player turn into heroes. Trotz believes Connolly can be one of those players.
“ [Connolly] doesn't need too many chances," Trotz said. "In a playoff, you get a loose puck here or there around the net and usually those unexpected heroes show up in the playoffs all the time.”
MORE CAPITALS: 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions