- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teammates on Wednesday morning weren’t eager to discuss the possibility of Jay Beagle missing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. A fringe roster player for the Washington Capitals at the start of the season, he has developed into a key faceoff, penalty-killing and shot-blocking specialist.

But the Caps won 2-1 without Beagle, knocked out by an apparent right leg injury, though his status is unclear for Game 7 against the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Coach Dale Hunter deemed Beagle day to day and said he “wasn’t sure yet” if the 26-year-old forward would skate Friday.

Jeff Halpern replaced him in the lineup for Game 6 and likely would again. And while the Caps know how important Beagle is, his injury won’t change their approach.

“We just move forward, man. I mean, Beagle’s a great player, and we’d welcome him back, but you add in a former captain of the Washington Capitals in Jeff Halpern, they’re cut from the same mold,” forward Brooks Laich said. “Halpy’s great on draws, great penalty killer, coming in with a world of enthusiasm. You take one out, but I thought Jeff did a great job of filling that hole.”

Power in power play

What has been an area of worry this season is a sudden strength for the Capitals: the power play. Washington has scored power-play goals in three straight and four of the six games against New York.

“We’re shooting the puck more,” Hunter said. “You see it where we moved it pretty well, in the game before that we took three or four shots before Johnny Carlson scored. So we’re shooting the puck more and getting more point shots.”

Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal just 1:28 into Game 6 was aided by Rangers captain Ryan Callahan falling down, but Hunter noted that quick puck movement contributed to that and opened up a seam.

“I talk about when our power play is successful, it’s crisp puck movement,” Laich said. “You have to use those opportunities when they’re there. They are a very good unit, but if we can move the puck and get them scrambling a little bit, we might be able to get a look at their net, and then it’s on our guys to put it in the back of the net.”

Hendricks as ‘The Rock’

The Caps referring to Matt Hendricks as a rock wouldn’t be surprising. He’s one of those “heart and soul” players, according to Laich and others. But Hendricks’ pregame antics include a different comparison.

“I don’t want to share a whole lot of it, but he has different routines that he does. One of them is ‘The Rock’ from [WWE] wrestling,” Laich said. “But he’s a fun guy, and every single guy on the team will tell you the same thing.”



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