On Monday, the Washington Capitals held Breakdown Day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. For two hours, Caps players filed out of the locker room and conducted exit interviews with the media. Because of the whole no playoffs thing, there were a lot of long faces.
There’s about three hours of interview video to surf though on Monumental Network. Because I hate myself and care only about you, dear reader, I’ve transcribed all the key quotes. And because this is RMNB, I also pointed out the fashion choices. Sadly, there was no crazy hair this year.
Jay Beagle may not own a smartphone, but he’s a nice dude. After Sunday’s 1-0 shootout loss to Tampa, the Caps held the ritual Jerseys Off Our Backs ceremony. When a man was presented with Beagle’s game-worn sweater, team photographers were swarming all around. However, the guy had more important business: Taking a selfie with Jay Beagle.
Later in the ceremony, someone else got the same idea. After pulling number 92, a gentleman tried to take a selfie with Evgeny Kuznetsov. His arm, however, was too short. Not to fear. Kuznetsov, an active user of social media, took control, asking for the phone and taking the series of photos himself. It wasn’t Kuznetsov’s first time doing that either.
With 42 seconds left in the Capitals’ 4-0 win over Chicago, Jay Beagle skated to the bench looking for a change. He had been on the ice for three shifts in the last four minutes. His teammates, however, were adamant that he stay on the ice. But finally, after Beagle crawled over the bench wall, Eric Fehr stepped on for the final shift.
“I felt bad for him because I knew how tired he was,” Fehr told me. “I could see it in his eyes. He doesn’t get that look very often. He was begging to come off. I took a second and evaluated it and figured I better go.”
Said Beagle of his reaction: “I said “’I’m not! I’m not staying on. I can’t even move my legs anymore!”
Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.
With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.
The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.
During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.
The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.
Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.
This photo of Beagle and Ovi celebrating a goal is from 2012. (Photo: Molly Riley)
As reported by Adam Vingan, Alex Ovechkin failed to get a single even-strength point in March. He finished the month in grand style by getting outshot* 15 to 5 against the Nashville Predators. Ovechkin is still the favorite to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals scored during the regular season, but when that happens it won’t be because of what’s happening during even-strength play. Ovi’s struggles with puck possession mirror those of the Capitals overall, but what’s happened in the last two weeks is particularly noteworthy.
Since March 16th, Ovechkin has shared the top line with Jay Beagle. Usually a fourth liner, Beagle’s promotion up the ranks has been surprising, though not totally unexpected. Injuries to Mikhail Grabovski and Brooks Laich depleted Adam Oates’ options at the center position. The big road trip in California gave Oates another reason to boost Beagle: splitting up Backstrom and Ovechkin should have created two scoring lines that would have made match-ups harder for home teams.
It didn’t turn out that way. Possession and production among the top six has been scant, and the Ovechkin-Beagle pairing has been the worst of all.
When I sat down to film my CRL segment on Jay Beagle’s flip phone, I thought he might be mildly annoyed. Maybe he was appearing at the behest of the Capitals PR department. We were, after all, making fun of him, if only in a lighthearted way. Instead, Beags played along. He talked about Flipper, guessed his teammates tweets, and sat through my flubbed intros.
When it came time to try out new phones with the Verizon guy, Beagle pretended not to know how anything worked.
“So how do I answer a call?” he asked regarding a touch screen phone, after “accidentally” turning on some music. “I can’t flip it!”
Jay Beagle is a simple guy. He drives a 2004 Chevy Silverado and likes to go muddin’ and shootin’ in the Canadian country during the offseason. Beags is unswayed by the flash and flourish of other professional athletes. He still has a flip phone.
“Flipper,” and it’s a she, has been with him for six years. Beags is protective of it, threating to break the phones of any teammates who hatch nefarious ideas to steal his beloved device. Perhaps even throw them off a balcony. That’s not all though.
Beagle has never been on Twitter. He doesn’t own a computer. He does not take pictures with his iPad. For our latest segment for Caps Red Line, we wanted to see if we could take Jay into the 21st century. I don’t think it worked.