Sheary takes pride in playing wherever Capitals need him originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
ARLINGTON, Va. — Over the last two seasons, Conor Sheary has quietly been among the Capitals’ most efficient scorers.
Among their players to appear in at least 50 games over that span, Sheary ranks third in shooting percentage (15.2%) while tying Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie for the third-most goals scored (33). He’s done it all bouncing up and down the Capitals’ lineup, filling in on several different lines as Washington has dealt with injuries.
“It’s something, I feel like as I’ve gotten older in the league and more experienced I think I’ve morphed into that role,” Sheary said after practice Friday. “I came in and I didn’t plan on that, but certain coaches gave me the opportunity to be in that position and move up and down the lineup and…I take pride in that.”
That role isn’t expected to change in 2022-23. Sheary has taken shifts with both the third and fourth lines during training camp. The injuries to Nicklas Backstrom (hip), Tom Wilson (ACL) and Carl Hagelin (eye and lower body) have forced the Capitals to try many different looks throughout the preseason to figure out the best combination for opening night against the Boston Bruins.
As a result, Sheary has seen a revolving door of forwards line up across him. He’s predominantly worked with two centers, however, starting alongside both Lars Eller on the third line and Nic Dowd on the fourth this preseason. Sheary has compiled 563 minutes of ice time with Eller over the last two years compared to just 80 with Dowd, but the winger doesn’t have a preference between the two.
“I’ve played a lot with Lars, I played a little bit with Dowd last year, so either position I think feel comfortable with,” Sheary said. “It’s not gonna change much in what I do with my game and yeah, we’ll see what happens.”
Wherever Sheary does line up Wednesday against the Bruins, it likely won’t be where he stays all season. After compiling 19 goals and 24 assists last season — both of which were the second-highest single-season totals of his career — he hopes to maintain his consistency despite taking on a role that is ever-changing.
“Just consistency overall, some years you lose your confidence a little bit,” Sheary said of how he found success in 2021-22. “We had a lot of injuries too, which helped me move up and down the lineup and be able to be in different situations, which helped that. But I think overall, the consistency I approach each game and was able to produce each game was probably the key to that success.”