Photo: Alex Brandon
Jay Beagle is having a career-best season. With 10 goals and counting, he’s got more offensive flair than ever before. That offense has come with criticism– not for Beagle himself, who is a talented and beloved bottom-sixer, but for the coach(es) who deployed him on the top line with Alex Ovechkin.
We, among others, criticized Adam Oates for playing Beagle and Ovechkin together in 2013-14. In 42 minutes together last season, Beagle and Ovechkin and were outscored 8 to 1 and outshot 94 to 58. This season, inexplicably, Barry Trotz has used Beagle and Ovechkin together even more (112 minutes and counting), though he’s seen much better results.
In 2014-15, Beagle and Ovechkin get outshot by merely 15 shot attempts every 60 minutes, which is only as bad as, say, John Scott.
Hockey, I’ve been told, is about results. So here’s every top-line Beagle goal I could find from this season.
The Caps are protecting a one-goal lead late in the first period. The puck is loose in neutral, but Ovechkin and Backstrom wrangle it to set Beagle loose into the offensive zone. A drop pass gives Ovechkin a rare even-strength Ovi shot from the Ovi spot.
That’s the game winner in a 4-2 intra-division win.
After a bad clear by New Jersey, Beagle chases a quick pass into the offensive zone. Nick Backstrom asks for the puck, so Beagle drops it to him. One snappy wristshot later, the game is 2-0 and on the way to a 4-0 shutout.
The Caps are down 3-1 in the third, and the Isles have the puck in the Caps zone. Beagle and Mike Green force a turnover, freeing Ovechkin to roar through neutral and hit up Nick Backstrom in the slot to score.
The Caps would get one more goal (also by Ovi, but with 21 on opposite wing) to tie it late in regulation, but the Isles win in OT.
Ahh, the Classic.
The score is 1-0 Caps in the first period. Mike Green puts a big wrister on the net, but it bounces off Crawford’s pads. Beagle gets the first rebound; Ovechkin gets the second. There is no third.
The Caps lose the lead later, but they win it late.
This was an empty netter at the end of a blowout, scored and created by Ovi, who forced the turnover and sunk the shot. Beagle is not involved. The Caps win 5-2.
We are tied scoreless in the first period. Jay Beagle skates the puck in deep, but gets swamped by defense. Nick Backstrom bails him out and sends the puck to the high man, Karl Alzner. Ovechkin deflects the shot because Alzner isn’t allowed to score.
That goal opened the scoring in a 4-0 shutout.
The game is tied 1-1 in second period. Marcus Johansson chases and retrieves a dump-in, passing it to Jay Beagle, driving to the net. Ovechkin swats the rebound out of the air like a freak. That’s the game-winning goal.
And now, the goals against.
Protecting a 3-2 lead with 14 minutes left, Barry Trotz deploys his Beagled scoring line for a defensive-zone draw for some ungodly reason. Nick Backstrom loses the draw and Elias Lindholm deflects it past Peters.
The Caps end up getting the win anyway, thanks to Nick Backstrom’s overtime goal.
Up 2-0 after 10 minutes, Barry Trotz again deploys his scoring line (with Beagle) for a defensive-zone draw because yolo. Backstrom loses the draw and Cam Atkinson scores on a one-timer.
Trotz sticks with top-line Beagle, and they score six minutes later. It’s the first goal on this page.
It’s 1-0 in the second period, and Mike Green gets undressed by Erik Condra at his own blue line. That’s it. Beagle and Ovechkin had nothing to do with this. It’s just a bad breakout and a great forecheck.
The Caps end up winning anyway after the power play scores later that period.
Tied at the midway point, the top-line plus Beagle gets caught in the offensive zone. Alex Steen, on a 3-on-2, beats Justin Peters on a rebound. Ovechkin is the only forward who gets back in time to see it.
Same game, next period. Caps down by one.
The Caps lose an offensive zone face-off. Beagle gets shut down on the forecheck, and the other Caps are totally out of position for another odd-man rush.
The Caps lose by the game by one goal.
Down by one goal halfway through the game, the Caps top line get in trouble in their own end. Orpik ties up some attackers, but the puck gets loose. Skinner finds it in the slot. Beagle goes down to block, but the shot hits the back of the net.
No one looked good on that play or that entire game. The Caps go on to lose 3-0.
I don’t have any grand reveal here. I just thought it’d be nice to have all these goals in one place. They seem to mean a lot to Barry Trotz, who calls Jay Beagle his “lucky charm.”
Retrospectively– and I don’t think this is the strongest analysis– Beagle wasn’t really involved in two of the seven Caps goals and three of the seven goals by opponents. Twice he delivered a nice drop pass to his linemates, but in both cases his linemates facilitated Beagle’s zone entry. Three times he crowded the front of the net. Twice he got stuck in the offensive zone as the opponent raced to his net (both times were in the same game), and only once did he look discombobulated in his own zone.
Most of arguments against putting Jay Beagle on the top line are based in analytics, or whatever you want to call noticing that the league’s most prolific shooter is spending most of his ice time in his own zone. Goals are rarer things, but they are far more compelling. So I turn it over to you: what do you see in these highlights? And if you find any goals I missed, let me know.
All the hard work by Fedor Fedin
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