Keith Aucoin surprised himself during his most recent drives between Washington and Hershey when he didn’t need his GPS for directions on the two-hour drive. It makes sense, though, considering that in the past month the center has made the trip six times yo-yoing between the Capitals and Bears.
“Lot of road miles going back and forth but it’s all been worth it,” said Aucoin, who was recalled to Washington again on Tuesday. “I feel like I’ve been playing pretty good and finally got rewarded last game. So I hope I can continue to do that and help the team win.”
Aucoin recorded a goal — his first NHL tally since Oct. 24, 2009 — and an assist in Washington’s 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. It was a strong showing by the 33-year-old Massachusetts native, who has long excelled at the AHL level but had trouble sticking in the NHL.
Now that the trade deadline has passed without any alterations to Washington’s roster, however, it’s possible Aucoin could remain with the team longer and avoid having to make that drive in his Chevy Tahoe once again.
Tonight against the New York Islanders, Aucoin is slated to be in the Capitals’ lineup for the ninth time this season. The number is important because once he plays in 10 or more games he will need to pass through waivers before he could be reassigned to Hershey.
If the organization doesn’t want to risk losing Aucoin to the waiver wire, it could easily keep him in Washington as one of 13 healthy forwards.
Coach Dale Hunter didn’t comment directly on the Capitals’ plans for Aucoin the rest of the season, but said he likes the way the experienced center plays.
“He played pretty well last game and we’re giving him another chance to play again,” Hunter said. “We all know he’s not a big guy but he’s a smart player that’s why he’s put numbers up in the American league. Wherever he’s been he’s played well offensively and he’s a smart player.”