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The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 15 Jay Beagle

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 15 Jay Beagle

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.Some, of course, play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

Today's player: No. 15 Jay Beagle

The Capitals have holes on their roster on defense and for bottom six wingers, but if there is one position in which there are no questions, it’s center. Washington returns all four centers from last season including today’s player, Jay Beagle.

Beagle set career highs last season in goals (13), assists (17) and points (30) after 81 games played, another personal best. That production evaporated in the playoffs where he was held without a point in 13 games, but Beagle’s true value does not stem from his offensive production.

The first step towards establishing possession is winning the faceoff. Overall, the Caps are a middle of the pack faceoff team, finishing 16th in the NHL last year. That number would plummet without Beagle.

RELATED: CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST: A SLIM OVECHKIN RETURNS TO WASHINGTON

Beagle led the team last season with a faceoff win percentage of 56.4-percent, tied for the 12th best in the NHL among players who took 100 faceoffs or more. More importantly, he was the only center on the team with a positive faceoff percentage in the defensive zone (56.8-percent) and shorthanded (55.7-percent). Winning a shorthanded draw is the difference between instant power play pressure from the opposition and an easy zone clear. His skill in the faceoff circle was so pronounced, it led to head coach Barry Trotz utilizing him in situations you don’t normally see him, such as to start overtime.

Outside of the faceoff circle, Beagle is one of the team’s key penalty killers. His 223:51 of shorthanded ice time last season was good for third among all forwards in the NHL.

Beagle can expect more of the same in terms of his on the ice role for the upcoming season. He will be the fourth line center, a key piece of the penalty kill and he can expect to take the majority of the key faceoffs in a game.

But now you can also add mentor to that role.

Gone are last season’s linemates Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson. Winnik has not been resigned by the team and Wilson seems likely headed up the depth chart after an impressive playoff performance. That means the 31-year-old Beagle will likely find himself playing alongside at least one prospect every given night, sometimes two, in what could very well be a revolving door on the fourth line.

Beagle will not only have to adapt to new linemates in October, he may have to adapt to new linemates frequently throughout the season which is a tricky proposition for a line that sees the majority of its minutes in the defensive zone. The Caps cannot afford too many growing pains from the bottom three and Beagle will be tasked with keeping the fourth line honest. That also makes it critical that he remains healthy.

Beagle’s 81 games last season shattered his previous career high of 62. The Capitals are no longer dealing with the same kind of depth they have enjoyed in previous seasons and there are no easy solutions for just how the team would replace him in the lineup

 He may be a fourth line player, but if the Caps lose Beagle for 20 games due to injury you will quickly see just how important he really is.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley
— No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly
— No. 20 Taylor Chorney
— No. 19 Nathan Walker
— No. 18 Philipp Grubauer
— No. 17 Christian Djoos
— No. 16 Madison Bowey

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Game 33: Capitals at Bruins Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 33: Capitals at Bruins Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins

Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Bruins will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Bruins game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BRUINS GAME?

The Capitals (19-12-1) take on the Bruins (15-9-4) Thursday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Boston.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BRUINS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Bruins game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Capitals GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington following the game for Caps Extra, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Bruins
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BRUINS GAME?

The Capitals-Bruins game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR CAPITALS-BRUINS?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Alex Chiasson
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - John Carlson
Christian Djoos - Madison Bowey

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: T.J. Oshie (upper-body injury), Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-BRUINS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Tuesday's win shows just how far the Caps have come since the last time they played the Avalanche

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Tuesday's win shows just how far the Caps have come since the last time they played the Avalanche

The Caps have come a long way in the past month.

On Nov. 16, the Capitals lost 6-2 to the Colorado Avalanche in Colorado. The game was not as close as the score indicated. Not only was it a bad loss, it felt like a significant one.

Over the course of an 82-game season, every team is going to have a lot of losses. Some of those losses are not going to be close. But given the fact that just one night before, the Caps were handed a 6-3 loss at the hands of the Nashville Predators, the loss to the Avalanche did not feel like a blip on the radar. It had all the feelings of a downward trend.

LISTEN TO THE LATEST CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST BREAKING DOWN THE CAPS' WIN OVER COLORADO

In hindsight, that game was in fact significant, but not because it signaled the unstoppable downward spiral of an aging team in need of a rebuild. Instead, it marked the moment the Caps turned their season around.

Since that loss in Colorado, Washington has gone 9-3-0. Since those ugly back-to-back losses, they have not lost consecutive games since.

And then on Monday, they hosted that same Colorado team that looked as if it had ended the Caps’ season in mid-November. The new-look Caps disposed of Colorado with relative ease by a score of 5-2.

After the game, it did not take long for November’s loss to come up.

“I guess we do better at this altitude than over there,” John Carlson said.

Matt Niskanen said the Caps had “our butts kicked” by the Avalanche and Barry Trotz said that they "handed us our lunch last time" and felt that motivated his team to respond in the rematch.

Considering how Washington looked the last time these two teams met, it would be hard for the Caps to respond much better than what they did on Tuesday.

MORE CAPITALS: 3 REASONS THE CAPS BEAT THE AVALANCHE

In November’s game, Washington had no answer for Colorado's top line. Nathan MacKinnon had a five-point night and Gabriel Landeskog recorded a hat trick. On Tuesday, neither player earned a point. Instead, both players finished with a minus-three rating on the night.

“I think there's a pride factor,” Trotz said of his team’s ability to bounce back. “I think there's a little bit of a cultural factor, DNA factor with this group because we've won a lot of games. We understand that best thing you can do after losing a game is start another streak and don't let the streak go the wrong way.”

Over the course of the last 12 games since the Caps’ first game against Colorado, Washington has been a team decidedly going the right way and, as of Wednesday morning, sit tied for first in the Metropolitan Division.

Who would have thought that’s where they would be after that disastrous two-game road swing in mid-November?