Daniel Sprong an Unlikely Contributor to the Caps’ Success

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Posted March 15, 2021

The Caps have undoubtedly shown great consistency so far in the season. They have picked up important wins and are still maintaining their spot near the top of the East Division. 

While a great deal of this success can be attributed to the stellar play of center Nicklas Backstrom (30 points in 27 games played), new head coach Peter Laviolette and the overall physicality of the team, the Caps have also had a few sparks from deeper down the lineup.

One of those sparks is right winger Daniel Sprong, 23, who most Caps fans may not have heard of a season ago. The suspension of Tom Wilson has put a dent into the lineup, and Sprong has made the best of the opportunity. Before the Caps signed Sprong to a two-year contract back in September of last year, the forward was playing out west for the Anaheim Ducks in which he recorded 19 points in 47 games. This season, Sprong has five goals and seven points in only 16 games. 

Prior to Sprong’s stint with the Ducks, he was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but didn’t make much of an impact in Pittsburgh. Now he has become a key depth figure of a Caps team that has reshaped their identity this season. 

After the Caps humiliating 5-1 loss to the Bruins back on March 5, coach Laviolette made some changes which included inserting Sprong into the lineup more frequently.

In the Cap’s 5-4 overtime win against the Devils, Sprong started on the second line and scored with an assist from Evgeny Kuznetsov. The goal was a pretty snipe in a two-on-one scenario with Sprong and Ovechkin. While most players might have passed to the man who is one of the greatest goal scorers of all time, Sprong took it by himself and gave the Caps a 3-0 lead in the process. 

In Thursday night’s win over the Flyers, Sprong was back at it, providing an assist on Conor Sheary’s goal that would give the Caps a 2-1 advantage in the first period. 

Sprong contributed again on Saturday night in which he opened the scoring against the Flyers with an assist from Jakub Vrana. 

Now, with a point in each of the last three games, Sprong is undoubtedly on a roll and has seemed to find his place on the Caps team. 

By playing his part and stepping up, Sprong has become a great option for the Caps and has earned his place on the second line. However, once players like Wilson return to play, it may require Laviolette to make some tough decisions in order to keep Sprong in the lineup.

When role players such as Sprong can make their way onto the scoresheet consistently, it provides an extra boost for the Caps.  In fact, much of the Caps success has been defined in part by the ability of players to step up and make an impact, sort of a “next man up” mentality. For instance, Saturday’s game had two goals from two fourth line players (Carl Hagelin and Nic Dowd) as well as a goal from a defenseman (Nick Jensen), including a goal of course from Sprong as well. 

If Sprong and other role players can maintain this level of play and keep coming through for the Caps, it will only aid in more success down the road as the Caps continue to aim for the playoffs.