After missing more than two months and 31 games with a concussion, Jay Beagle will make his return to the Capitals’ lineup in Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers.
Beagle took part in the team’s line rushes in the morning skate at KCI and Coach Dale Hunter confirmed that the fourth-liner will suit up against New York.
“He’s one of these kids that want to play, you see how hard he works in practice. By watching practice [you see] that he wants to play,” Hunter said. “He’ll give us some energy, give us some size. Especially against the Rangers, [their] third and fourth lines are big guys and we'll need some size.”
Beagle was cagey when asked if he would return to the lineup after the morning skate but he insisted that he was ready to go whenever the Capitals called upon him.
“I feel like I’m in game shape right now. The last couple skates that I’ve had have been pretty hard baggers so I feel like I’m in game shape,” Beagle said. “I’m cleared and so it’s just when the coach needs me, then I’m going to step up and do whatever I can to help the team to win.”
Beagle hasn’t played since suffering a concussion back on Oct. 13 when he was knocked out in a fight by Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham.
The recovery process from a concussion, as the entire NHL now knows, varies for each individual but over the past month Beagle has steadily improved. From skating 15 minutes to working out with his teammates on a daily basis to getting himself back into game shape it’s been a slow-moving process and Beagle is antsy to start playing hockey again, rather than watching it.
“I’m real excited to go again,” Beagle said. “Watching hockey is not that much fun when you can play it. I’m just excited to get out there and get that first one out of the way and help this team to win.”
That Beagle returns against the Rangers is a combination of the 26-year-old being ready to play and the fact that Mathieu Perreault is still a little sore after being speared by his own stick late in the third period on Monday in Buffalo.
Perreault went to a Buffalo area hospital that night to rule out any internal damage but was released the same evening no worse for wear.
“It was a combination of both, [Beagle’s] been skating hard which you guys have seen here. Health wise he was ready, conditioning was the thing” Hunter said. “By Matty getting [hurt], not seriously he’s just sore, gives [Beagle] a chance to play.”