Mention Bengt Gustafsson's name to a Washington Capitals fan and three visions are likely to occupy his mind.
First, Gustafsson faking out an enemy defenseman to score a dramatic goal. Second, Gustafsson clanging a shot off a goal post. Third, Gustafsson punching Boston's Stan Jonathan to earn the nickname of Swedish Goon.
This season, Gustafsson and the Capitals' management are looking for more goals, better shooting luck and the end of the opposition harassment that has taken so much away from the Swede's game, as well as causing the injuries that have hindered him during his three seasons here.
Last weekend, Gustafsson scored four goals against Pittsburgh in three games, while the Penguins' big, clumsy defensemen were swinging at either air or equally big Washington enforcer types.
"Gus has played so well, he's been a star in a couple of hockey games," said Coach Bryan Murray. "He put a fake on one Pittsburgh defenseman and just left him standing there. I hope to see a lot of that this year, as our bigger guys make sure he doesn't have somebody's stick in his face all night."
"I'm a little heavier, I feel stronger and the contact is no longer a problem," Gustafsson said. "I pushed little weights at the beginning of the summer and now my weight has stabilized at about 192, where I ended the season.
"I've signed a new contract, and I'm relieved about it, and in training camp the goals have been coming easy. I feel now that instead of post out, it will be post in.
"I should have had more than 26 goals last year. A lot of small things can bother you, but after Christmas things were working good. I want to start faster this time."
Gustafsson has recorded 69 goals in three seasons and he has played well defensively, shadowing Wayne Gretzky into frustration as one example of his superb backchecking. But injuries have reduced his effectiveness at times. Although he has missed only 18 games in three seasons, his body has been below par frequently. Last season, for example, he was bedeviled by a strained knee, pulled tendons in an ankle and a cracked rib.
"Every European has had an adjustment period here," said General Manager David Poile. "A lot of them lack durability and consistency. Now Gus is at an age (24) where we expect a little more of him. From what he's shown in camp, he should have a super year."
Much of training camp at Hershey, Gustafsson played at left wing on a line with Milan Novy, his camp roommate, and Ken Houston. Yesterday at Fort Dupont, he was back with Bob Carpenter and Mike Gartner -- a unit that totaled 93 goals last season -- and chances are they will stay together, although Murray is still uncertain about the makeup of his lines.
"I think I was with Milan to try to help him out," Gustafsson said. "I'm on the same wavelength he is. We think things out. When I came here, Rolfie (Edberg) was here and helped me out. You go through a lot of problems--different style, smaller rink and all the personal things you have to do, like a house and a phone, things you don't know anything about."
For Gustafsson, the change is complete. Now it is time for a big leap forward.
Goaltender Dave Parro has a bone chip in his left shoulder and must rest for a few days. Poile summoned Robbie Moore from Hershey to fill in temporarily, but said the doctor had indicated Parro's problem was not serious.