WASHINGTON — Washington Capitals proper winger Carl Hagelin is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and has appeared in additional playoff video games than every other N.H.L. participant since his postseason debut seven years in the past.
It’s a whopping 125 video games — the similar quantity as his teammate Alex Ovechkin, who entered the league six years earlier than him.
Yet this season, Hagelin, 30, has taken on an uncommon label: journeyman.
With his kind of accomplishments, who would have anticipated Hagelin to be on three groups in a single season?
Hagelin went by a season of extremes over 4 months as he shuttled from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Western Conference’s last-place Los Angeles Kings earlier than being dealt to the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals.
“Like any person at a job, you are thinking you can be there as long as you can,” stated Hagelin, one of the league’s prime defensive forwards.
Before coming to Washington at the commerce deadline, his eight factors in 38 video games with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles instructed to a wasted season.
But the outdated Hagelin returned to type with the Capitals, amassing 11 factors in 20 video games to warmth up simply earlier than the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.
“A lot of years, I’ve had really good second halves, but coming here helped a lot,” Hagelin stated. “I got my swagger back.”
But he has been held with out a level in the first spherical towards the Carolina Hurricanes. The Capitals lead the sequence, Three-2, after rolling to a 6-Zero victory on Saturday night time.
The Capitals’ uneven play has resulted in Coach Todd Reirden’s shuffling strains, sending Hagelin on nearly each line. He is now on the fourth line and the workforce is ready for him to create a spark.
Hagelin’s groups have eradicated the Capitals 5 occasions. He did it with the Rangers (2012, 2013, 2015) and the Penguins (2016, 2017).
For Hagelin, it was troublesome adjusting to Los Angeles, the place he missed 20 video games from a knee damage. For a participant who spent the majority of his profession in the Eastern Conference, he wasn’t almost as acquainted with the Kings’ roster as he was with the Capitals’ gamers.
In Washington, Hagelin discovered three fellow Swedes he knew in Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky and Christian Djoos and group of veterans he confronted time and again in the playoffs: Ovechkin, John Carlson, Braden Holtby and Tom Wilson.
Thus, it’s not a shock that when Hagelin joined the Capitals, he felt an instantaneous connection.
“It felt like I already knew the guys on a personal level,” Hagelin stated.
That began off together with his fellow countrymen, who texted him and referred to as him straight away. They additionally took him out to lunch on his first day with the workforce.
“Backstrom welcomed me in right away, and I knew the other Swedes,” Hagelin stated. “And there is a mutual respect here between me and a lot of guys because I have played against them so many times in the playoffs.”
He first turned acquainted with the Capitals as a rookie throughout the 2012 playoffs with the Rangers. He had two assists in Game 7 to get rid of Washington in the second spherical.
Two years later, Hagelin helped information the Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals, with 12 factors in 25 video games. They misplaced in 5 video games to the Kings.
The Capitals felt extra frustration with Hagelin as a Penguin. He totaled seven factors in six video games in the 2016 second-round victory en path to a Stanley Cup, and completed that postseason with 16 factors in 24 video games.
When recovering from a damaged fibula in 2017, he returned simply in time to assist get rid of the Capitals once more in a second-round sequence earlier than Pittsburgh gained its second consecutive Cup.
After all of that unhealthy blood, Hagelin likes the Capitals now.
“They actually have good guys on the team,” he stated.
Brett Connolly feels the similar sentiment towards Hagelin.
“Off the ice, he has been great,” Connolly stated. “He came in and fit in right away. He is a very likable guy. Everybody respects the way he plays. He has won Cups, which helps.”
The Capitals coaches are additionally happy with Hagelin’s management.
“We wanted him for a number of reasons,” Reirden stated. “One of them was for him to show our younger guys how to execute in those high-pressure situations.”
The Capitals additionally introduced Hagelin in to do what they’d hoped many of the group’s gamers ought to have been doing earlier than final 12 months’s Stanley Cup run. He will get it carried out in the playoffs with an perspective.
Whether or not Hagelin piles up a lot of factors in the playoffs, the Capitals know he’ll nonetheless have the type of influence that might swing a sequence.
“You want to go out there and bring your A-game every night,” Hagelin stated. “If you don’t do it, the other team is going to do it and the other team is going to win the battle. You just want to play your best game of the season that next playoff game.”
He doubtlessly might be on the transfer once more. Hagelin might be an unrestricted free agent in July.
But nobody on the Capitals will name him a journeyman. “For whatever reason, it didn’t work out in Pittsburgh and L.A.,” Connolly stated. “Everyone knows why he was traded here. He was traded for this moment right now.”