The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jason Chimera proving he’s ‘still got it’

(Darryl Dyck /The Canadian Press via AP)

Trips to Edmonton always brought a bout of nostalgia to Jason Chimera. This was where the Washington Capitals forward was born and this was where he made his NHL debut. With this being the last season at Rexall Place before the Edmonton Oilers move to a new venue downtown, Chimera found it even harder not to reflect.

“I went against Kevin Lowe my first camp and he kind of just swatted the puck away from me just like it was nothing,” he said. “Memories like that.”

In Chimera’s 13-season career, there are those fond recollections and then there are more frustrating ones. His first one under Coach Barry Trotz started bumpy, as his ice time dipped to his lowest total in a non-lockout year since 2005-06. But weathering that has made the start to this season – three goals and one assist through Washington’s 6-1 start – so rewarding.

“Sometimes you have down years for whatever reasons,” Chimera said. “You kind of try and get back on the horse and prove you still got it.”

The 36-year-old credited the play of his linemates – Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson – as the reason for his hot start. The third line has stayed together since the end of training camp, so it’s developed chemistry as Washington’s shutdown line. The priority is defense, but that trio was responsible for two goals against Vancouver in Thursday night’s 3-2 win.

The first goal was scored by Chimera, when he tapped in Beagle’s pass across the crease to him. Against Calgary in the game before, Chimera had a top-shelf wrister that gave the Capitals a three-goal cushion in a 6-2 win.

Chimera has also benefited from familiarity with Trotz. He scored seven goals all of last season, and through Washington’s first seven games, in which the Capitals have recently gone on a scoring tear, Chimera is nearly halfway there.

“I just think he’s in a good place,” Trotz said. “He’s working. He’s using his biggest asset, his legs. I think his compete level has been really good. I just think when a player’s in a good place and he’s using his assets, they’re always going to be productive.

“I think him and Beags have played together a little bit over the past few years. They’ve got a little bit of chemistry, and I think Willie helps that as well because I think he’s under both of their wings. They’re just working hard and using their assets.”