COLUMBUS, Ohio – Since he arrived Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center, through the slush and sleet of Interstate 95 to meet his new Washington Capitals teammates after their win over Toronto, forward Curtis Glencross has peppered his answers with the same basic observation.
“It’s a relaxed room,” he said Monday, before the trade deadline passed, after his first practice. “Everyone gets along. They’re a good skilled team, and they’re all good friends too.”
“It’s real easy,” he said Tuesday morning at Nationwide Arena, after participating in an optional skate. “It was real easy. All the guys have been great with me. That’s a huge part that helps you get as comfortable as you can, as soon as you can.”
“I’ve been saying in pretty much every interview since I’ve got here,” he said hours later, in that same locker room. “It’s a tight group and guys stick up for each other.”
He could only confirm this final part once a fight-filled victory against Columbus had given him a successful opening night, once Glencross had received an on-ice introduction to the camaraderie he had already noticed. The 32-year-old winger never fully participated in the chest-thumping and fist-flying, free of penalties during the 5-3 victory, but got his lay of the land and left with an intimate understand of the club that had swapped two draft picks for him.
“That’s what you need going down the stretch,” Glencross said.
In 12 minutes, 10 seconds, his second-lowest total this season, Glencross recorded the Capitals’ lowest even-strength shot attempt differential, at minus-five according to war-on-ice.com, and appeared on the ice for both David Savard’s fluky deflection goal, which hopped off forward Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick, and Scott Hartnell’s even-strength tally, which Glencross narrowly missed blocking before the puck got redirected behind him.
But he also demonstrated some early chemistry with linemate Troy Brouwer, threading a slick pass that sprung the forward free on a breakaway. Of course, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky denied Brouwer on the doorstep and started the counter-rush that turned into Savard’s blast, but Glencross left encouraged with his assimilation into the line.
“On that play there, obviously Brouwsie tried on the breakaway, but sometimes that all happens, it turns around and they come back and score right away,” Glencross said. “That’s a tough break for us, but it’s something we’re going to build. First game, I had some jitters there for the first little bit, but the more you play with guys, the more you get a read on guys and we’ll keep going from there.”
The night before, after the Capitals landed in town, four teammates took Glencross out for dinner, welcoming him into their midst. Glencross understood the partial awkwardness of parachuting into a locker room, whereby his presence meant changing roles for others (read: Brooks Laich’s scratch and Andre Burakovsky’s reassignment).
But just like during his first practice, he was all smiles after the victory. Upon finishing his interview, he disappeared behind a curtain into the training room, passing center Nicklas Backstrom along the way. The new teammates nodded and congratulated each other.
“It was definitely a little different, took a while to get in the swing of things, but we had a big win tonight,” Glencross said. “Wasn’t pretty tonight, but we had a gutsy effort.”