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Get to Know a Penguin: Conor Sheary

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As part of the build-up to the second-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Penguins, Japers’ Rink will be looking at some of the important Pittsburgh players and how they might impact the series.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Conor Sheary

#43 | Left Winger

Height: 5’8” | Weight: 175 | Born: June 8, 1992

Birthplace: Winchester, Massachusetts | Acquired: Signed by Pittsburgh in 2015.


Assets: Is a natural point producer at all lower levels. Shoots the puck often. Plays with an abundance of energy every shift and is tenacious on the forecheck. Can play on either side of center.

Flaws: Can he survive the National Hockey League game at his diminutive size (5-8, 175 pounds) and with his lack of strength? He does have a tendency of getting knocked off the puck.

Career Potential: Diminutive depth scoring winger with a little upside.

(Via The Hockey News)

Via HockeyViz

Why You Should Know Who He Is:

If you’re a fan of The Greater Cosmic Justice of the Universe, or just generally dislike the Penguins, Conor Sheary typifies everything you hate deep in your blood cells about Pittsburgh.

Undrafted out of college and undersized (seriously, at just 5’8”, Sheary is barely taller than me and is just north of all-time great mighty mouse Marty St. Louis), this is not a guy in whom many teams saw potential. I mean, go back to the top of this page and read that scouting report from The Hockey News. It’s brutal. “Lower levels...diminutive...little upside.”

But that’s not the whole story, because that’s not why you hate Sheary and the Penguins. You hate them because Pittsburgh and coach Mike Sullivan saw the potential in Sheary and knew how to use him to drive opponents utterly bonkers. In the 2016-2017 regular season, Sheary amassed 23 goals and 53 points - the same amount of goals as Nicklas Backstrom and more points than Justin Williams during that same campaign. In 22 playoff games last year, Sheary rang up 29 hits and 44 shots with 14:08 of average ice time.

Friends, this is why Pittsburgh makes your blood turn to curdled milk. You hate the Penguins because they keep finding Conor Shearys. Sure, sometimes they’re named Jake Guentzel. Sometimes they play goalie and they’re named Matt Murray. But damnit, Conor Sheary is the archetype of the fast, overperforming, underappreciated nobody that seems to come from nowhere and light up the modern NHL game.

How The Caps Can Stop Him:

Speed and bruises, folks. Speed and bruises.

Deep in the cerebral cortexes of Capitals fans, next to the Lobe of Self-Loathing and the Medulla Oblongata-Stop Taking So Many Freaking Delay of Game Penalties, the wispy vapor of neurological camaraderie has forever paired the names Conor Sheary and Brooks Orpik.

As much as Sheary typifies the “new” NHL, many Washington fans feel Orpik typifies the “old.” And at least in last year’s second round, that was painfully true. Orpik, asked to play a truly 200-foot, counterpunch-or-be-counterpunched high octane game, had his doors blown off by Sheary and his speedy ilk.

But this year, these Capitals are different. Gone is the toxic polarity that grouped Washington blue liners into either “heavy dinosaurs” (Orpik, Karl Alzner) or “speedy greenhorns” (Nate Schmidt) in the minds of many.

The emergence of Dmitry Orlov as a legitimate, bona fide number one defenseman capable of shutting down opposing superstars as well as moving the puck with speed and dynamism is a new-for-2018 development. The acquisition of Michal Kempny and his subsequent development into a well-rounded, fleet-footed partner for John Carlson is also new. Add in the ever-improving play of fellow tiny boy Christian Djoos on the third pair, and this Washington defense begins to look like something different. They may not be better than last year, but they are better suited to shut down these Penguins.

Throw in some smothering both-sides-of-the-puck forwards like Nicklas Backstrom, the imposing presence and recently revealed skill of Man Who Will Ruin Your Day Then Instagram It Tom Wilson, and - perhaps my favorite - the Sheary-like emergence in the first round of speedy, skilled fourth-liner Chandler Stephenson, and...

Well, I’ll say it again.

This Caps team may not be better than last year’s team. But they could be Pittsburgh’s worst nightmare.