CALGARY – Jakub Vrana sat down and was amazed by the branch that produced the story.
Alex Ovechkin brought the stick he used in his rookie season, when Ovechkin scored 52 goals, in the team's locker room before the Washington Capitals' first long trip to Western Canada. Vrana had already seen it before, on YouTube, when he watched Ovechkin's highlights grow. Vrana wondered why he could not replicate the early days of Ovechkin's productivity in his young career.
Vrana, 22, is in his second season with the Capitals. He played a key role in the playoffs when the team won its first Stanley Cup in the history of the franchise. This season, Vrana was playing well at the beginning and was getting chances at the net, but the effort was largely neglected on the scoresheet.
That changes finally.
Vrana scored his second goal of the season Saturday in a 4-3 shootout victory over Calgary, recording his fourth point in four games. Thanks to its maturation and early regularity in this second season, the Capitals envision their young player, and an extraordinary Stanley Cup organizer, as a potentially offensive star, even if the puck struggles to find the net early.
"You want to be confident there, and obviously, trust is not there and you can not bury them," Vrana said. "… Then you have to find a way to regain your trust, and that's [at] practice. That's what you do You will practice and you will practice even more. As I said, he will eventually enter.
After scoring an early goal against Pittsburgh in the second game of the season, he scored no points until he scored a goal and an assist in the Capitals' 6-5 loss to the United States. Panthers of Florida on October 19th. He scored another decisive pass in the Capitals' 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks, a laser-assisted pass to defenseman John Carlson, who redirected the puck past Canucks goaltender Anders Nilsson.
"You just stay positive when you have games where you work really hard and you work for your chances and where nothing really comes in," Vrana said. "You stay positive and keep working over and over and good things will happen."
In a rookie year, Vrana scored 13 goals with 14 assists in 73 games. He was, however, at his best in the playoffs, finishing with three goals, including the first goal in the victory of Washington's fifth game against the Golden Knights of Vegas.
"He was a little more consistent in his game than maybe compared to last year," said Capitals' center, Lars Eller. "His efforts have been more consistent. … It's something that comes with maturity, age, experience and understanding of what will make it succeed in the future. "
Vrana skated on Saturday alongside Ovechkin and center Evgeny Kuznetsov on the front row. On Friday, Vrana tried to describe the different features of the game on this line. He started with Ovechkin: pure scorer. Then, Kuznetsov: playmaker. Then himself: "I can integrate myself there
Vrana continued, "I think I'm a little 50-50 [of Ovechkin and Kuznetsov] … I had the habit of scoring lots of goals, then I had a lot of audience for goals and then it worked like half-half-half and half-goals aids . "
So, hope is to be a player with Ovechkin's goal abilities and Kuznetsov's abilities in skating and role play?
"Yeah, maybe," Vrana said with a chuckle. "… I know that I am a good player. I am a confident player. Just show it on the ice.
Vrana described playing alongside the two stars as a "responsibility" to prove that he deserves that place in the training and "reward" the coaches who made that decision. The trio played together for the first time last season in a win at the opening of the 5-4 season against the Ottawa Senators. In addition to Ovechkin's hat trick, Vrana finished with two assists and five shots on goal.
"It's good to be on this line," said Vrana. "We always want to have fun, and we want to play hockey and we think it's also the most important. That's why we play. They are really relaxed and can make jokes and the like. I'm really not under pressure. I just want to go to the team and coaches who gave me this chance. "
Before coming to the front row, Vrana had played in the last two games of the Eller line alongside striker Brett Connolly. Before that, he was with the attackers Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.
"Vrana continues to improve and there is a huge advantage for a player like himself," said Capitals coach Todd Reirden.
Eller said he liked playing with Vrana because of his speed, his explosiveness on the ice and his creativity. Vrana said he had made some adjustments to his game this season, but he still focused on his skating.
"My game is essentially about skating," said Vrana. "I'm trying to skate, you know, beat the D on the ice and work, work, work with the puck, hold the puck a little more. Clearly, the defensive game must be good at every game, so you have to work on it as well. It's just the details you need to work on.
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