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 identical quantity as his teammate Alex Ovechkin, who entered the league six years earlier than him.
But this season, Hagelin, 30, has taken on an uncommon label: journeyman.
Together with his sort of accomplishments, who would have anticipated Hagelin to be on three groups in a single season?
Hagelin went by way of a season of extremes over 4 months as he shuttled from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Western Convention’s last-place Los Angeles Kings earlier than being dealt to the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals.
“Like all particular person at a job, you might be pondering you may be there so long as you possibly can,” mentioned Hagelin, one of many league’s prime defensive forwards.
Earlier than coming to Washington on the commerce deadline, his eight factors in 38 video games with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles recommended a wasted season.
However the outdated Hagelin returned to type with the Capitals, amassing 11 factors in 20 video games to warmth up simply earlier than the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.
“Quite a lot of years, I’ve had actually good second halves, however coming right here helped rather a lot,” Hagelin mentioned. “I obtained my swagger again.”
However he has been held and not using a level within the first spherical in opposition to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Capitals lead the collection, three video games to 2, after rolling to a 6-Zero victory on Saturday evening.
The Capitals’ uneven play has resulted in Coach Todd Reirden’s shuffling strains, sending Hagelin out on nearly each line. He’s now on the fourth line, and the staff 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 tough adjusting to Los Angeles, the place he missed 20 video games from a knee harm. For a participant who spent the vast majority of his profession within the Jap Convention, he wasn’t practically as conversant in 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 a bunch of veterans he had confronted repeatedly within the playoffs: Ovechkin, John Carlson, Braden Holtby and Tom Wilson.
Thus, it’s not a shock that when Hagelin joined the Capitals, he felt a direct connection.
“It felt like I already knew the blokes on a private degree,” Hagelin mentioned.
That began off together with his countrymen, who texted him and referred to as him immediately. In addition they took him out to lunch on his first day with the staff.
“Backstrom welcomed me in immediately, and I knew the opposite Swedes,” Hagelin mentioned. “And there’s a mutual respect right here between me and loads of guys as a result of I’ve performed in opposition to them so many occasions within the playoffs.”
He first grew to become acquainted with the Capitals as a rookie through the 2012 playoffs with the Rangers. He had two assists in Sport 7 to eradicate Washington within 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 within the 2016 second-round victory en path to a Stanley Cup and completed that postseason with 16 factors in 24 video games.
After recovering from a damaged fibula in 2017, he returned simply in time to assist eradicate the Capitals once more in a second-round collection earlier than Pittsburgh received its second consecutive Cup.
In any case of that unhealthy blood, Hagelin likes the Capitals now.
“They really have good guys on the staff,” he mentioned.
Brett Connolly feels the identical sentiment towards Hagelin.
“Off the ice, he has been nice,” Connolly mentioned. “He got here in and slot in immediately. He’s a really likable man. Everyone respects the way in which he performs. He has received Cups, which helps.”
The Capitals coaches are additionally happy with Hagelin’s management.
“We wished him for quite a lot of causes,” Reirden mentioned. “One among them was for him to point out our youthful guys learn how to execute in these high-pressure conditions.”
The Capitals additionally introduced Hagelin in to do what that they had hoped lots of the group’s gamers ought to have been doing earlier than final 12 months’s Stanley Cup run. He will get it performed within the playoffs with an perspective.
Whether or not or not Hagelin piles up loads of factors within the playoffs, the Capitals know he’ll nonetheless have the form of impression that would swing a collection.
“You need to go on the market and convey your A-game each evening,” Hagelin mentioned. “In case you don’t do it, the opposite staff goes to do it, and the opposite staff goes to win the battle. You simply need to play your finest sport of the season that subsequent playoff sport.”
He might probably be on the transfer once more. Hagelin might be an unrestricted free agent in July.
However nobody on the Capitals will name him a journeyman. “For no matter motive, it didn’t work out in Pittsburgh and L.A.,” Connolly mentioned. “Everybody is aware of why he was traded right here. He was traded for this second proper now.”