Hagelin: We found our 'swagger' in first home win

Chris Lingebach
October 17, 2019 - 4:02 pm
Hagelin: We found our 'swagger' in first home win

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Capitals (4-2-2) were finally able to get their first home win of the season with a 4-3 victory over the Maple Leafs Wednesday night.

It's been a strange start to 2019-20, with both of the Caps' overtime losses coming at Capital One Arena, where they're 1-1-2 on the season. Perhaps more surprising, defenseman John Carlson is the team points leader with 14 (three goals, 11 assists).

"You see him joining the rush a lot, making the best plays on the team at the moment offensively, and he's also playing well defensively," Caps winger Carl Hagelin said during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance with Grant & Danny, presented by F.H. Furr.

"And it's not only on the power play," he noted. "You keep seeing him involved offensively five-on-five and he makes it a lot easier on the wingers and on the centers, because he's such a smart player and he makes great plays. We're fortunate to have a player like him."

The Caps fell into an early 2-0 hole to Toronto, but mounted a comeback by scoring the next four goals, starting with a Jakub Vrana goal with about a minute remaining in the first period, followed by three straight goals in the second period. Hagelin notched an assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov goal to open the second period.

Asked what finally clicked for the Caps, Hagelin answered, "Well first of all, to finally get a win at home was a good feeling. We needed that. We needed to get that swagger back. We need to be a team that plays well at home in front of our fans and gets a lot of wins, and that doesn't mean it has to be pretty."

"Tough start," he said, "but then a big goal by (Vrana) there in the first period with just a minute left, and then I think between the first and second we just sat down and realized we have to play with more urgency and play a little smarter. Then we came out in the second with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy and that's the type of team we can be when we're clicking."

As for the up-and-down start to the season, Hagelin said it's difficult to pinpoint a single reason for it.

"It's hard to pinpoint one thing. Like you said, we haven't won all the games where we played out best, and then we won some games where we played average," he said. "I think it's a matter of trying to get back to playing smart for 60 minutes. I know it's cliche, but that seems to be the problem for us.

"We had great starts our first six games, and then all of a sudden the last two at home we've had terrible starts where we've been behind the eight ball right away. I think it's just a personal thing. Everyone has to look themselves in the mirror, realize what they have to do to be successful. It's different for every player."

"I think the more games we play, the more comfortable we'll get," he added. "Because, again, we do have a lot of new players on the team and we need to gel together and become a team. It's all a process, but we can definitely do better, that's for sure."

In light of the Nationals' upcoming World Series appearance, Hagelin – a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins (2015-16, 2016-17) – was asked for his insight into how winning a championship can change your life.

"Obviously it's probably the coolest experience you'll have as an athlete, if you're able to win the championship," he said. "That's what you dream of growing up and that's why you play all those games."

"I mean, for us, it takes 100 games to win it all in the NHL, 105, and in baseball it's almost double, so I can only imagine what toll it takes on their body," he said. "It definitely changes your life and the players you win with, they'll be family for the rest of your life and you'll definitely have a special bond with the people you win it with."