When Capitals rookie defenseman Christian Djoos showed up at Capital One Arena ahead of his first career NHL game, he understandably felt a little more nervous than previous games in his professional hockey career.
Despite the extra nerves, the young Swede showed why his teammates are quick to rave about his strong puck handling skills and steady composure as he posted a goal and an assist against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Djoos has always been a confident player, but even he wasn't expecting to post such an impressive stat line in his first NHL game.
Video: PIT@WSH: Djoos scores a goal in his NHL debut
"First game in the NHL and you get a goal and an assist, that wasn't my plan really when I showed up at the rink," said Djoos. "I just wanted to play good and play a detailed game and a structured game. I'm happy with the goal and assist but we didn't get the win, so not good enough."
Djoos' performance Wednesday night turned out to be historic as he became the first defenseman in franchise history to record two points in his NHL debut. Additionally, he was the first Capitals defenseman to score a goal in his debut since Steve Poapst tallied a goal on April 10, 1996 against the New York Rangers.
With his two points against the Penguins, Djoos picked up where he left off in Hershey last season. In 2016-17 with the Bears, he piled up a career-high 58 points (13g, 45a) in 66 games played. Djoos' 45 assists were tied for the most in the AHL among defensemen.
Video: PIT@WSH: Ovechkin jams home Djoos' cross-crease feed
While Djoos' performance certainly caught the attention of Capitals fans, he also made quite an impression on his veteran teammates.
"I thought he was awesome," said Niskanen. "Lot of confidence, wasn't afraid, moved the puck really good out of the zone, and then scoring a goal in his first game was pretty unbelievable. Those never get old."
The strong start for Djoos will help boost his confidence even more going forward, but he's also helped out by the fact that he can gain experience and knowledge alongside Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, two defensemen who have NHL 1,642 games played between them.
"They're great," Djoos said. "From day one at camp they've been positive and trying to help me, with all the details."
Djoos was impressive in his debut with Capitals, and with the team's heavier dependence on young players this season, they'll be looking for more of the skills that he flashed Wednesday night throughout the season.