The Washington Times - March 6, 2012, 01:39PM

Jay Beagle is much more used to being a center than the center of attention. The 26-year-old has been one of the rare bright spots for the Washington Capitals lately, with his grinding style producing some offensive chances and some more ice time for a guy accustomed to fourth-line minutes.

Beagle attributes his recent strong play to finally being back in top form after missing 31 games from October through December with a concussion.


“I think it’s just kind of taking a little longer to get back to where I would like to be, from that injury. Conditioning wise and just foot movement. I think it’s just finally getting back in a rhythm and feeling comfortable out there,” he said. “And the coaching staff has put more confidence in me and that’s helped. It’s given me more confidence.”

Beagle very likely will get a promotion to the third line for Tuesday night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and a move back to the center position he grew up playing. He’s expected to play between Matt Hendricks and Troy Brouwer.

“It changes your game a little bit. You got to be more defensive minded, I think, a little bit. In the D- zone you got more responsibility and stuff,” Beagle said. “On wing it’s kind of you can just go in the offensive zone. Obviously, you want to get back hard. …

“I’m not going to try to change anything. I’m just going to keep doing what I do. There’s just little things, little tweaks that you think about the D-zone a little bit more.”

What has been working so well in Beagle’s game is his forecheck. Playing with Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward, he was a beast at controlling the puck in the offensive zone and wearing down defensemen.

In doing that, Beagle has gotten some of the best scoring chances on the team lately, but hasn’t been able to bury them. Short of trying to get Mike Knuble’s hands from his prime, Beagle plans to keep putting himself in good places to get opportunities.

“It’s obviously frustrating. But in the other sense that I’m getting those chances and when you stop getting those chances then something isn’t right,” he said. “You got to tweak your game or start doing something different to be able to get those chances. In a sense, obviously, it’s frustrating.

“I want to score and I want to help this team win. But as long as I keep getting the chances and keep working hard I know they’re going to start going in the back in the net.”