ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals forward Daniel Sprong admitted on Wednesday that watching from the press box for the last three games wasn’t the best experience, but he’s aware of the need for improvement.
He wouldn’t go too far into logistics or the message that the coaching staff was sending his way. However, he’s hoping to put it all in the rearview — and quickly as he and Washington look to get back on the right track against the San Jose Sharks.
“I want to play,” Sprong said simply. “Of course, everybody wants to play and my name’s called.. I’m ready to go.
“I just bring the same attitude every day. Work hard, have fun at the rink and it was a bit frustrating being out for three games, but it is what it is. You can’t control that.”
The last stretch hasn’t been great for Sprong, who has gone the last five games without a point, his last being a goal against the St. Louis blues back on Jan. 8. Through 34 total games, Sprong has recorded 77 shots but has just six goals, five assists and a +/- rating of plus-2. He las He also has eight takeaways and 12 giveaways, along with 24 hits and nine blocks while averaging 12:56 minutes per game.
“I feel like that’s kind of been my thing all year. I’ve been having some really good looks… it’s kind of the thing for me this year they haven’t been going in,” Sprong explained. “Hopefully, that changes soon.”
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Head coach Peter Laviolette said that when it comes to No. 10, he wants to not only see Sprong bring his ability on the forecheck on the table, but needs him to step up on defense as well. Sprong has been on the ice for 19 goals for and 17 goals against this season, including six goals against in his last eight outings. His play in the neutral zone has also been a bit inconsistent, as has his backchecking.
As the Capitals looking to bust out of a tough stretch that has seen them drop seven of their last 10 decisions, they want to see Sprong elevate his play at both ends of the ice.
“I think Daniel’s got a good chance of scoring a goal. He’s got a good release,” Laviolette said. “The things we’ve talked to him about are just a 200-foot game. Making sure defense is good, offense is good so he gets an opportunity to jump back in.”
SPRING SPRONG pic.twitter.com/zvGsilqUQL
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) January 8, 2022
Sprong agreed, saying that he is looking to capitalize on building his all-around game while experiencing lulls on offense. The Netherlands native will slot in for Connor McMichael on the second line with Conor Sheary and Nicklas Backstrom.
“I think when things aren’t going in for me especially as a shooter, you just got to make sure the rest of your game is doing well. You got to be moving your feet, making sure pucks don’t go in. Then, the rest will take care of itself,” Sprong said. “I’ve been on the ice for a couple against so that doesn’t help my case either. But I know pucks are gonna be going in eventually. They have been in the past, just a longer stretch than I’m used to. But I just got to make sure I play the rest of the game the right way.”