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Beagle wants Caps to see him as third-line center solution

Beagle wants Caps to see him as third-line center solution

Later today we’ll begin our player-by-player analysis of the 2015-16 Capitals’ numerical roster (beginning with Matt Niskanen and ending with Evgeny Kuznetsov).

But since the topic of improving the Caps’ third-line center position has been a hot one lately, fueled by general manager Brian MacLellan stating it’s one of his top priorities in the offseason, it’s worth revisiting Jay Beagle’s take on where he’d like to fit into the Caps’ lineup in 2016-17.

“I want to be a third-line center,” Beagle said. “That’s what I want to be. That’s up to the coaching staff. Coming into this year that was my goal, to make that third line stronger and I felt the coaches gave me that opportunity and when I had that opportunity I did my best with it. Playing with guys like Chimmer (Jason Chimera) and Willy (Tom Wilson) was awesome. It was a lot of fun.”

RELATED: OVECHKIN, KUZNETSOV, ORLOV FINISH WITH A MEDAL

And until Beagle broke his hand on Dec. 30, when he was slashed by Buffalo’s Jake McCabe when trying to glove an airborne puck, the Caps’ third line was pretty productive.

At the time of Beagle’s injury, he had six goals and six assists in 32 games. Chimera had 10 goals and 10 assists and Wilson had two goals and nine assists for a total of 18 goals and 25 assists.

Beagle underwent surgery on Jan. 2 and sat out the next 24 games, forcing the Caps to move Marcus Johansson into the role of third-line center. Johansson infused speed onto the line but was eventually replaced by Mike Richards.

Beagle began skating five days after his surgery but had just 70 percent grip strength when he returned to the lineup on Feb. 28, nearly two months after the injury.  

He finished the season with just two goals and three assists in his final 21 games of the regular season and notched three goals in the playoffs, two against the Flyers and one against the Penguins.

With two years remaining on his three-year, $5.25 million contract with the Caps, Beagle said he’d love to be given another chance to play alongside Chimera and Wilson on the third line next season.

Whether he gets that chance depends on what the Caps are seeking in the free agent and trade markets.

“I think I had a pretty good season,” he said. “Breaking my hand midway set me back a bit, I think coming back on the ice I didn’t feel like I was 100 percent with grip strength and it took a bit to find a groove again. The start of the season I felt really, really good. I think it was the best hockey I played. Playing with Chimmer and Willy for as long as we did, they kept that third line together until I busted my hand, really.

“I felt like we had a lot of good chemistry and we were playing really good hockey. It was a lot of fun playing with them. I think it was the best hockey I played. Coming back (from the injury) I think I could have been better. I felt like I was not as good. I was still trying to find my groove but I found it later in the season and in the playoffs I felt pretty good.”

MORE CAPITALS: CAPITALS SETTING THEIR SIGHTS ON A NEW THIRD-LINE CENTER?

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.