Washington Capitals Forward Jason Chimera Proving He Belongs


Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Chimera is looking to make his mark on this year’s Washington Capitals squad after a trying 2014-15 season.

Washington Capitals forward Jason Chimera charged through the neutral zone, demonstrating his trademark speed. He was yelling in joy seconds later after he scooped a cross-crease pass from center Jay Beagle past Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. That marked Chimera’s third goal of the young season. Could anyone have seen this coming a year ago?

Mere months into Barry Trotz’s first season as the head coach of the Washington Capitals, the veteran Chimera was a subject of a scathing post-game interview following a bad penalty in the overtime period of a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That penalty led to a loss. It was a down year for Chimera. This all followed a career-best 42 point season the year before. All this appeared to be a sign that Chimera may be running out of gas. It was certainly no secret that Chimera and Trotz weren’t seeing eye to eye.

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The struggles for Chimera continued into the final stretch of the season. Heading into the playoffs, something clicked for Chimera. He suddenly became one of the Capitals best forwards when it mattered the most. Promoted onto a line with breakout star Evgeny Kuznetsov during the playoffs, Chimera had seven goals in 14 playoff games after having just 19 points in 77 regular season games. That could be attributed to the increased ice time he saw during the playoffs or possibly just being lucky. It was something deeper. Chimera and Trotz developed an understanding that has carried over into this season.

Even after his post-season success, many expected Chimera to be the odd-man out. This was even more so after the Washington Capitals acquired forwards T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. Chimera was probably going to be a fourth-liner at best on a deep team with young talents such as Andre Burakovsky and Tom Wilson vying for more ice time. Even Chimera thought at times last season that he wouldn’t be here. He said as much in a Washington Post article detailing his improved relationship with his coach.

"“I was fully expecting they were going to get me out of here, the way things were going,” Chimera said. “It’s one of those things, you want to be there for it. If you win with these guys, it’s going to be awesome because it’ll be such a great feeling, because we’ve been through a lot together and we’re right there. You can feel it.”"

Chimera is the Washington Capitals oldest player at 36 years old. He may be nearing the end. However, recent history makes you think that he could be a very big part of any run this team goes on. Over the past four seasons, these are Chimera’s point totals: 39, 14, 42, 19. Given his improved relationship with Trotz and his peculiar trend of having a down season followed by a good season, the stars might be aligned for Jason.

That assumption is being fulfilled so far this season. Chimera has been one of the most noticeable forwards for the Washington Capitals. He scored the team’s first goal this season off a cross-ice pass intended for Justin Williams that deflected off of a defender’s stick and into the New Jersey Devils’ net. He has played a role on a penalty kill that lost several mainstays including Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, and Eric Fehr. He has four points in seven contests.

Chimera is one of the most vocal players on the Capitals and he always has been. Perhaps, paired with a mutual understanding with Trotz, this is why he was named a member of his coach’s leadership group prior to the beginning of the season. He has proven his worth to those who may have doubted he would be here at all at this point. He has started up where he left off in the post-season. Even at 36, he is faster than most of the players in the league. He’s been all over the ice in a role that nobody expected him to have.

This is the final year of a two-year extension that Chimera signed with Washington. There is no guarantee that Chimera will have another career season to continue the pattern that he has put together for himself statistically for most of his tenure with the Washington Capitals. At the very least, he is comfortable, he is having fun, he wants to win and it is showing.

If nothing else, Chimera has proven to the fans, the organization, and maybe even himself, that he belongs.

Next: Who's Hot And Who's Not For The Caps - Week 3

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