Capitals' Beaupre faces sticky issue New NHL rule puts demands on goalies

October 09, 1992|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

Crowds are fine, in their place. But Washington Capitals goalie Don Beaupre would prefer they not be around his crease (( during a game.

He'd like some sight lines. He'd like some elbow room. Who wouldn't in his line of work?

But whether he's going to get it may depend on how well the Caps defense adjusts to keeping their sticks down low.

Beaupre came off the ice at practice yesterday at Piney Orchard in the same condition he was in after the team's opener in Toronto Tuesday.

"I got through it," said Beaupre, who made 29 saves in Washington's 6-5 victory over the Maple Leafs. "I'm happy about that."

But he wasn't happy Tuesday, when Toronto was able to continually push in toward the crease, backing up Beaupre's defenders until they were nearly standing on his skates.

It made seeing the puck and making a save more difficult than it should have been, he said.

The situation could intensify tonight when Washington plays its first home game of the NHL season against Patrick Division rival New York Rangers.

The Philadelphia Flyers visit the Capital Centre tomorrow night.

"I think Toronto was taking advantage of the new rules," Beaupre said.

"With having to keep the sticks down below the waist, it's tougher to tie a guy up."

A new rule stipulates that if a player makes contact with another above the waist with his stick, it is a penalty. In the past, contact had to be above the shoulders to be an infraction.

Capitals coach Terry Murray said he hopes none of his defensemen is thinking too much about being at a disadvantage.

"I wouldn't want to hear that from any of them," Murray said. "Toronto went at the net very hard. It was their strategy to do a lot of dumping and get some quick forechecking pressure, and then they had the opportunity to go to the net while putting a lot of pressure on us. They scored a couple off it. But we've just got to be stronger in those situations one on one.

"You know, I don't like to see our goaltender, our No. 1 guy, getting abused in the goal crease area."

Beaupre said it's difficult for every team to adjust right now, and he got support for that position from defenseman Rod Langway.

"We've got to find out how to eliminate plays around the net," Langway said.

"It used to be you put your stick in or near their stomach or stomach area and slowed them down with your strength.

"Now we've got to perform a little bit different, and you more or less have to give them a little more room because if you try to play them too tight, they're going to go right by you and have an open net goal or tap-in goal."

Defenseman Al Iafrate said he is trying to adjust to the new rule by using his stick differently.

"It's true, you can't get the same leverage to move a guy out," Iafrate said.

"What I try to do is put the stick between his legs and give him a good shove with my hand. There's no rule saying you can't do that.

"I think this new rule will make better players of us all. Before I came into the league as an 18-year-old, I never knew how to fight and high stick. Ten years ago, it was a free for all. Now, I think it's going to bring out the really good athletes in the games.

"You're not going to have flagrant cross checking with no penalties. You're not going to see a guy lose his teeth because someone got mad for five seconds."

Beaupre, who was icing his right knee yesterday after getting hit by a few pucks, says he realizes he will have to live with the situation while adjustments are being made. He knows guys are going to be leaning on him and he knows he is going to have to do his part.

"I'm going to have to control a lot more rebounds, I think, and that's tough when guys go to the net like they did in Toronto," Beaupre said. "When guys come in like that, you can't control it. You can't catch it. You just try to get behind it and watch for it hitting people and try to watch for a deflection.

"There isn't a lot of scoring in hockey, so every goal can make a difference.

"You just have to hope the refs will take their time and get it right."

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