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Jay Beagle, Productivity, and Realism

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A quick look at Jay Beagle's surprising productivity, and the reality behind it.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

If back in October someone had told you that by mid-February Jay Beagle—  he of 13 goals and 14 assists in 192 career NHL games entering this season— would be such a lightning rod for discussion amidst a so-far successful Caps campaign that offers plenty of other compelling storylines, you'd likely have inquired as to the contents of that someone's pipe.

But here we are, the playoff picture shaping up nicely, and coming off a 3-point game (2g, 1a) in which he led the Caps to their first ROW in San Jose since 1995, and Jay Beagle has a hearty 9 goals and 8 assists to his name, just one point shy of doubling his career best point total.

Here's a bit of context for you, courtesy of our pal Adam Vingan:

And to add to that score, let's also note that amongst his teammates, Beagle has lit the lamp at five-a-side as many times as Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, and Troy Brouwer. Beagle has lit the lamp more times than young sniper Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Mike Green, Evgeny Kuznetsov, or Brooks Laich.

Consider that Jay Beagle's ice time is, on the whole, more restricted than his linemates', and note that the two names directly preceding his on the team's rate-scoring rankings are Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Now of course Beagle is shooting with more efficiency than his career average- he's tickling twine at 13.8%, compared to a career average of  8.1— but he's also putting the puck on net more often. He's already put more shots on goal— 65— in twelve fewer games played this year, than he did all last season.

And while Beagle's average even-strength ice time has increased (largely in part to a few games up with the big guns) from 10:14 a game in '13-14 to 10:54 on this campaign, the shot and production growths far outweigh the TOI increases.

The damning thing about Beags' production, is that it hasn't at all come during his stints at the top of his lineup. In fact, in just under 100 minutes of even strength TOI with Backstrom and Ovechkin he hasn't scored- though did tally two assists to show as spoils. By contrast, 4 of Beagle's 7 5v5 goals have been scored skating alongside Jason Chimera, 3 alongside Michael Latta, and 2 next to Tom Wilson.

(HERO graph credit: Own the Puck)

Further to the point, when it comes to the rate at which he generates scoring chances, Jay Beagle is still every bit the fourth liner he's been his whole career. In fact, amongst every day Caps forwards, only Jason Chimera and Michael Latta are on the ice for a slower rate of high-quality chances. Besides, what limited scoring chances are being produced with Beags on the ice are coming against some lower quality competition.

But we're here to add context to Beagle's unprecedented productivity, not to diminish it— quite to the contrary. This secondary tertiary quaternary scoring is welcome whenever and from whomever, and it seems to contribute to overall success— the Caps are 7-0-1 when Beagle scores. It's great to see the cards fall well for a guy with a reputation for working his tail off, and the longer the success is sustained the better.

But without taking anything away from Beagle's accomplishments during his career year, as fans with an active interest in the future successes of the team (and an interest in understanding the setting in which the present transpires), it's important to recognize that Beagle's surprising production is an anomaly, and resultant primarily from a meteoric shooting percentage increase.

Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the Beagle show, and know that (to quote Beags' one-time linemate) it is what it is.