Winger Beagle Relishes His First Playoff Call-Up
Saturday, May 9, 2009
PITTSBURGH, May 8 -- With Eric Fehr hurting, Michael Nylander struggling and Donald Brashear serving a suspension, the Washington Capitals recalled rookie Jay Beagle from the minor league Hershey Bears.
Beagle, an undrafted winger who made his NHL debut on Feb. 11 and appeared in three games with the Capitals, had another first on Friday night when he suited up for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"When I got told by [Bears General Manager Doug Yingst], a lot of emotions went through -- mostly excitement," Beagle, 23, said. "I'm probably the happiest kid in the world right now."
Beagle skated on the right side of the fourth line alongside Boyd Gordon and Tomas Fleischmann as Coach Bruce Boudreau shook up his forward combinations. Beagle took the roster spot of Nylander, who was a nonfactor on Wednesday and has played in only three playoff games.
A feisty 6-foot-3, 208-pound native of Calgary, Alberta, Beagle said he didn't have to be told what was expected of him.
"That's my game: add a little bit of grit, be physical out there and finish the body and get a good forecheck on," he said. "I'm just going to play my game and finish my checks."
Beagle, who was one of the final cuts after a strong training camp in Washington, missed two months in Hershey with a concussion, and because of the injury, saw his offensive production drop. He recorded only four goals and five assists in 47 games with the Bears, one season after posting 19 goals and 18 assists in a breakout 2007-08 campaign.
Beagle played 3 minutes 21 seconds on Friday night in Game 4.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Beagle said. "When all this is done, I'm sure I'll look back on it. But right now I'm in the moment and focused on the task at hand."
One day after being the subject of a death threat on the Penguins' message board, Alex Ovechkin said he was made aware of the threat and the investigation into it prior to Game 3.
"It was an emotion thing," Ovechkin said. "I'm always feel safe. It doesn't matter what's going to happen. You never know what's going to happen. Of course I care, but if it happens it happens."
He added: "I understand. He's a big fan. He just wanted to . . . get me a little afraid."
The NHL announced that Monday's Game 6 will begin at 7 p.m.