Photo credit: Christian Petersen
Coming into 2014-15, Jay Beagle had never scored more than four goals in a season. For a fourth line center, that’s fine. Under Barry Trotz, however, Beagle’s playing time has increased. When the Caps took the ice against the Leafs on Sunday, Beagle was slotted in the top-six alongside Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer. By the end of the game, Beagle was the top-line right wing, a position he has occupied many times this season.
But here’s the rub: despite a career-high nine goals and 17 points for Beagle, he brings Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom down. I love Beagle. He’s a great face-off man, a solid fourth liner, and a fantastic guy. He is not, however, qualified to play on the first line. Analytics — and the singularly important eye test — back this up. Trotz disagrees though.
“Beagle’s like my lucky charm,” Trotz told reporters when asked about the rotating right-wing spot. “When I put him up there ,we score. I know you analytics guys don’t like his numbers, but we score and get back in the game. There’s reasons for that.”
Jay Beagle has 19 goals in 229 career games. Six of those goals have come this season, surpassing his previous career high of four despite the Caps being just one game past the halfway point. When Chris spoke to Beagle last month, the Caps dogged Center credited his offensive surge to the faith Barry Trotz has placed in him, as well as his own renewed commitment in the off-season to becoming a better offensive player in 2014-15.
“Trotz puts a lot of faith in me and puts me in big situations,” Beagle told RMNB in December. “I’m grateful for it. I don’t want to let him down, I don’t want to let my team down, I don’t want to let myself down. You get those opportunities and you make the most of them.”
Beagle’s producing more points than ever before in his NHL career. He’s made plays that have left Alan May speechless. His production rate during 5v5 has increased dramatically this season.
Here’s a look at what may be driving Beagle’s breakout offensive season.
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Before this season, Evgeny Kuznetsov had only played sparingly at center in his hockey career. But with the Capitals lacking in center depth, head coach Barry Trotz has tried to convert Kuznetsov and fellow rookie Andre Burakovsky into pivots. Both struggled earlier in the year, with Burakovsky getting scratched and eventually moving back to wing. But Kuznetsov has stuck and is finally adjusting to the new role. Against the Avalanche on Monday night, Kuznetsov was an offensive force, with four shots on net, a shot off the crossbar, and a myriad of drives past the Colorado defense.
“He’s got really good vision, he’s got great hands, and he’s skating well,” Trotz said after the game. “I think his puck protection has been really good, his detail in the D-zone has been really good. You get chances, you’re gonna produce. I think he’s a very talented guy.”
I spent my Saturday at Nationals Park — well, until NHL PR literally chased me out. The stadium is nearly in its full party dress with fake domes, banners, and a sheet of ice with logos on.
But alas, there were still more games on the calendar before New Year’s Day. Tonight the Caps visited Pittsburgh. A bunch of the Penguins have mumps. Crosby had mumps. Mumps makes your face big. Okay, we got that out of the way.
Attack dog. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)
The Barry Trotz era has been a time of tumult for Jay Beagle. In October, he let his beloved Flipper go, a love that had burned bright for six years. Once the season got going, he found his role with the Caps growing. Beagle is skating an average of almost 13 minutes a night this year, a big jump from previous seasons. In fact, Beagle has spent time on the first line skating alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Beags’s has been back there again lately, filling in during Tom Wilson’s recent mid-game benchings.
“Trotz puts a lot of faith in me and puts me in big situations,” Beagle said. “I’m grateful for it. I don’t want to let him down, I don’t want to let my team down, I don’t want to let myself down. You get those opportunities and you make the most of them.”
You guys, I’ve got some incredible news to share. Jay Beagle has played only 21 games this season, but tonight he tied his career high in goals with four. He’s also more than halfway to his career season high of 9 points, which he set last season.
The (un)dynamic fourth-line winger has scored two goals in his last two games. He also did this a few weeks ago. Suffice it to say: Beagle’s playing unleashed. Let’s throw him a bone (wink) and take a look at his latest goal.
Michael Latta fights current teammate Kris Newbury in a game last year.
According to Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post, Eric Fehr will return to the lineup this weekend and the healthy scratch will be one of four players currently practicing on the fourth line. They are: Jay Beagle, Michael Latta, Liam O’Brien, and Tom Wilson
Game-day decision whether Beagle, O'Brien, Latta or Wilson gets scratched from the 4th line, Trotz said. Fehr's back beside 25/92.
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) October 31, 2014
Scratching Michael Latta would be a mistake and here’s why.
On Friday, the Washington Capitals held a photoshoot for their annual dog calendar, benefitting Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. While we posted everything that was put up on social media that day by the Caps, we didn’t tell you that our very own Amanda Bowen went to the event and got her own photos.
And oh man, they are incredible.
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