Wins in preseason expire stats-wise in a matter of weeks, but for a team that’s gone 5-1 and 4-2 in the last two preseasons, a first win in four games has to be somewhat important, right?
The Capitals’ Jay Beagle thinks so.
“We play the game to win, so, preseason or not, you want to win,” Beagle said after the Capitals’ 3-1 win against the Blue Jackets Monday. “We kept saying, ‘It’s a long week, we’ve got four games, so let’s start it off on the right note.’”
Perhaps most encouraging was the revival of the Capitals’ power play, which went 2 for 5 Monday. Veteran defensemen Dennis Wideman (goal) and Roman Hamrlik (assist) complemented the play of some of the young guys trying to make the roster – Chris Bourque, who had two power play assists (and one at even strength), and Matthieu Perreault, who had a power play goal (he also had an assist on Cody Eakin’s even strength tally).
Beagle’s seat to observe the power play is as good as anyone’s.
“I think just those little passes,” Beagle said when asked what he thought clicked for the power play that evening. “Not trying to pass through too many guys … it looked like those guys were keeping it simple.”
Overall, the scoring for the Capitals came mostly from the grassroots up. Top liners Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom logged no points, although they were on the ice for one Caps power play goal and the one tally by the Blue Jackets, who sat many of their regulars. Ovechkin and Backstrom’s linemate for the night, Troy Brouwer, did get an assist on a power play goal. Wideman logged the most power play time, and Mike Green had none at all. Of the young players trying to make the roster, Bourque had far and away the most power play time with 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, outside and inside the Verizon Center, you could tell it was preseason. Around the arena, there was an army of red sweaters, despite the August-like weather. Inside, a huge contingent of NHL starters roamed the press box, not the ice.
But the Capitals won, and that felt a bit more normal.