Defense keeps Savage from one-way ticket

December 04, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Reggie Savage is weary of commuting. The sometime Washington Capital and sometime Skipjack wants to take the Baltimore-Washington hockey shuttle only one more time -- to D.C. for good.

For the second time this season, Savage is back with the Skipjacks. Although he has played in barely half their games, he goes into tonight's game against the Capital District Islanders with 16 points, No. 6 on the team's scoring list.

Savage, a 22-year-old native of Montreal, played well enough in training camp to warrant a spot on the Capitals' opening-day roster. After playing little and scoring not at all in three games, he was sent to the Skipjacks.

Savage was, as Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz is fond of saying, "like a scoring machine," ringing up 11 goals in 11 games.

Back he went to the Capitals for four games, in which he scored two goals and two assists, only to be returned to the Skipjacks last week with the explanation that Washington wanted to go with its veterans.

"It's tough," Savage said. "I wasn't at all happy when they told me I was being sent down. I'll play this option year and then be a free agent."

Savage has scored 74 goals for the Skipjacks the past two seasons, including 42 in 77 games last season. Offensive output alone is not enough, however.

"He has to be more than a scoring machine," Trotz said. "He has to be a complete player.

"He has to improve in what we call rush responsibilities -- recognizing who's got who on defense. Another area he has to work on is defensive zone coverage.

"And he has to make more quality plays between the blue line and the hash marks. Now he makes too many desperation plays there. He needs to stay there longer and maybe take a big hit so the puck will come out easier."

Savage acknowledges his defense needs work, but says he has been working hard on it all along.

"There's no doubt in my mind I can play in the NHL," Savage said. "I thought I played well those four games before I came down the last time, and that's why it's so tough."

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