The Washington Times - March 10, 2012, 04:58PM

BOSTON | Matt Hendricks took a couple whacks at the puck from just outside the crease. For a guy who wanted to reach 10 goals this season and wanted to mimic Mike Knuble in doing so, it was the perfect way to score.

But Hendricks’ effort Saturday may have been his best of the season thanks to not only some offensive production but his all-around checking game.

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He played well. He’s always played hard. His work ethic, it’s unbelievable,” coach Dale Hunter said. “That’s why he’s on the checking line and playing so well that his work ethic gets him. He got rewarded for it with a goal.”

Hendricks scored his just fourth of the season in helping the Washington Capitals jump out to a two-goal lead early at the Boston Bruins, but it was his job the entire game to play sound defensively. Not only was he strong on the forecheck but he was the kind of annoying defensive presence that his teammates need him to be.

Of course he wasn’t totally satisfied.

I felt good. A little upset I was out there for two even strength goals for us and two against,” he said. “That’s kind of tough, but that’s a great team we were playing. I look at it as a building block to continue the rest of the season, I hope.”

That’s for Hendricks individually and the team as a group. Scorers gotta score and checkers gotta check; doing both for him is gravy.

But Hendricks rounding into form as a dependable role player is essential down the stretch. The Bruins have a team full of guys like him and won a Stanley Cup. That might be a stretch for this team to even think about right now, but another Southeast Division title is more than within reach if he and others of that ilk keep playing like this.