On almost a daily basis, Coach Dale Hunter emphasizes the importance of hard work, regardless of the player, special-teams unit, or overall team trend he is discussing. So to hear him describe one of the Capitals as working “too hard” in Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime victory was a little surprising. Coming from Hunter, though, that may be one of the best compliments a player can get.
The player who works too hard? Jay Beagle. The fourth-line winger was noticeable each time he was on the ice against the New York Islanders because of his willingness to battle for pucks, chase down loose ones and well, work, to create opportunities for himself and his linemates.
“The work ethic is huge. He’s a great kid and his work ethic is what gets him done and he’s annoying to play against because he works too hard out there,” Hunter said. “He works too hard. You wouldn’t want to play against him because you know he’s going to work both ways – defensively, offensively, and he’s just a hard-working kid.”
Beagle finished with a game-high 5 shots on goal, which is also a season-high for him, in just 11 minutes 6 seconds of ice time and drew a hooking call against Kyle Okposo in the second period.
According to stats guru Neil Greenberg, Beagle was on the ice for four scoring chances and just one against. Of those chances, Beagle created three himself, which is the most individual scoring chances he’s had since Jan. 16, 2011.
While he wasn’t able to convert on any of the scoring chances he created, Beagle, along with Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward, helped to create energy and wear down the New York defense with their work off the forecheck.
Among all of the players on Washington’s roster, the 26-year-old Calgary native is the one most often identified by his relentless work ethic and rigorous training regimen. Those traits have served him well this season as he needed to work his way back into playing shape after missing more than two months with a concussion after being knocked out by Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham.
While Beagle says he hasn’t reached the level of conditioning he would like to have, his energetic play has been an asset to the Capitals.
“I felt really good, my legs felt good, [strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish] was really working me hard the last couple days,” Beagle said of what sparked his strong night. “I’m still trying to get back in shape, get that jump and Mark’s been great with pushing me a little harder than I like to go. It paid off tonight.”