Evaluating Spencer Carbery’s Rookie Coaching Season

Spencer Carbery
Photo: Washington Hockey Now Washington Hockey Now

Washington Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery made his debut with the team in the 2023-2024 season. The Capitals had just come off of their worst season in recent history, led by Peter Laviolette, in which they missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Carbery, the youngest coach in the league, was dealing with a downtrodden and aging team whose veteran core was not producing offensively like they had in the past. However, the rookie coach–improbably– led the team to a playoff appearance that was secured in their final game of the season. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though, because the Washington Capitals were swept in their series against the Rangers. Clearly, Spencer Carbery has some room for growth in his coaching ability.

Spencer Carbery brings a young, fresh, never-give-up attitude to the Capitals’ team, and gives compelling post-game speeches in the locker room, win or lose. He constantly encourages and uplifts his players, even in the face of adversity– something that has proven to be advantageous to the Washington Capitals. Spencer Carbery also takes advantage of the young talent in the organization, something his predecessor never did. Carbery was consistently playing the likes of Connor McMichael, Ivan Miroschnichenko, Hendrix Lapierre, and others from the wildly talented Hershey Bears team. “He brought the intensity,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said about the coach. “He turned it up on a nightly basis.”

The Capitals had a hard time adjusting to Spencer Carbery’s play style at the beginning of the season. During training camp and the preseason, he implemented a fast-paced style of play that the Capitals were not used to and struggled to keep up with. On top of that, captain Alex Ovechkin only managed to score eight goals in his first 43 games, Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie were out with injuries, and Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the NHLPA. The team’s veteran core was seemingly nonexistent, leaving the game up to young, inexperienced players. Washington lost 17 of its 34 games in 2023 and went on a six-game losing streak in both January and March.

There were struggles, no doubt, especially on the power play. In fact, the team had a month-long stretch without a power play goal and had a power play percentage of just 20.61. Special teams were the difference-maker in Washington’s postseason play, as well. The Capitals converted just two of 17 power play opportunities and allowed two shorthanded goals from the Rangers, as well. The penalty kill also allowed six goals on 16 chances. There is clear room for growth in special teams, and Spencer Carbery should tap into his experiences as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ assistant coach, as he helped lead the teams’ power play while in that role.

Stats via https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/WSH/

Despite the struggles, general manager Brian MacLellan praised Spencer Carbery, stating “I thought he was excellent. He’s a good young coach, he has a good mind for the game, brings energy every day, does a good job with addressing issues that come up during the year with players. Constantly trying to make players better. I think he has a really good skill set. I think that’s his first year, he’s only going to get better from here on out.”

After a much-needed break, Carbery and the Capitals will work hard in the offseason to adjust the pace of play, improve special teams, have more success on the faceoff, and (finally) get Alex Ovechkin his top goal-scorer record. It can only go up from here!

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
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  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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