The Hershey Bears will wear a Caps-themed jersey against the Lehigh Valley...
Beagle Finally Unleashed
It seemed that Jay Beagle‘s season could have very well ended back on Oct. 13, when Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham knocked him out with a punch that would’ve made any professional boxer proud. It took Beagle 31 games to recover from ‘concussion-like symptoms’ before he suited up again, something that never seemed certain considering the team’s depth at the time and the fact that it’s not uncommon for him to be a healthy scratch.
It’s an understatement to say that Beagle works hard. In fact, Coach Dale Hunter says Beagle works TOO hard, effort which earns him 6-11 minutes a game on the fourth line, despite a statline that doesn’t jump out at anyone. Beagle typically has no goals, no assists, no penalties, maybe one shot, one hit, and a respectable 56% face-off percentage.
The 26-year-old center scored his first goal of the season against Carolina the other night, and was a split second past the buzzer from scoring another that would’ve certainly made SportsCenter’s Top Ten plays of the day. That game, he played a season-high 16:40. Against Tampa Bay on Thursday, Beagle skated another 14 minutes on the third line, kept the puck deep, drew a penalty in the first period, and took an offensive-zone hold in the second which still looked to be as a result of too much effort (as opposed to a lazy offensive zone penalty).
Beagle is making $512,500 this season, tied for the least amount of anyone on the team and typical for players of his caliber. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Numbers alone won’t get him much of a raise, but the Capitals know how much heart he has. I’d venture to say that even if the Capitals were living up to expectations this season, they wouldn’t think any less of Beagle, and keep him with the club in the coming years no matter how 2011-12 pans out.
Beagle didn’t come out to the media scrum after Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win. And why should he? He did nothing substantial. Just his job. If the rest of the Caps worked this hard, this season would be entirely different.