Chandler Stephenson Makes His NHL Debut

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Posted October 16, 2015

Earlier today, the Capitals recalled Chandler Stephenson from the Hershey Bears, and they thrust him right into the Capitals lineup.

They almost literally thrust him into the lineup. Stephenson didn’t even get a morning skate as he was rushed from Hershey to Washington.

“The guys were kinda joking around, saying I was getting thrown in cold turkey,” Stephenson said with a smile. “It was good. I guess I just got an extra bit of rest. But when I got to the rink this afternoon, I was just kinda getting the legs going, just trying to feel good and try not to think about it too much. Just go out there and have fun.”

Stephenson played in his very first NHL game in the 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks

“It was kind of a whirlwind,” Stephenson said. “I was just calling friends and family back home and just letting them know.”

Stephenson played 8:43 minutes in his NHL debut. He also won five of his six face-offs.

Stephenson played between Brooks Laich and Stanislav Galiev on the fourth line, and both of his line mates helped him in different ways.

“He’s awesome, Brooksie” Stephenson said. “He’s been in the league for awhile. He was just trying to keep me (calm). Having Gally on the wing (was) also good. We had a bit of chemistry last year in Hershey. So that was good, just kinda seeing a familiar face on my line. It was just kinda easy to find one another.”

The Capitals selected the 21-year-old Stephenson in the 2012 draft with their 77th overall pick in the third round. His most prolific season came in his final year of the WHL with the Regina Pats. He scored 30 goals and dished out 59 assists in 69 games.

Last season was Stephenson’s first full year in the AHL. He managed to record seven goals and seven assists in 54 games.

Whether or not Stephenson remains with the club for the foreseeable future is yet to be seen. But Trotz was happy with what he saw in his newest forward.

“Chandler was really good,” Trotz said. “I think he was like five and one on our count (for face offs). I don’t know what the NHL stats were, but I know on our count he was five and one [He was five and one on the NHL’s count as well]. I thought he showed good patience. Positionally, he’s really, really good. That’s a strength, and I thought he was just fine. You look across and you’re seeing Jonathan Toews and (Patrick) Kane, the Stanley Cup champions for your very first game, that can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. But he didn’t seem overwhelmed at all.”

The Caps next game is this Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Stephenson doesn’t know if he’s penciled into the lineup just yet, but he’s excited at the possibility of getting back out on the ice for the Caps.

“I’m just going to play it by ear right now,” Stephenson said. “I’m just going to enjoy this moment right now.”