Trips to Washington bring back good memories for Hathaway

Garnet Hathaway

      WASHINGTON – Only six players remain on the Capitals’ roster from the 2018 Stanley Cup championship team and Flyers right wing Garnet Hathaway is quite familiar with all of them.

      He spent all but a few months of the past four seasons playing alongside the aforementioned gentlemen and he says he learned a lot from the experience.

      Hathaway was back in the District of Columbia on Friday night as the two teams squared off with plenty on the line. The Flyers hold the last guaranteed playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and the Caps have designs on making that position theirs.

      The elite half-dozen players left from that ’18 team include superstar Alex Ovechkin, defenseman John Carlson, tough guy Tom Wilson, veteran forward T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom (currently injured) and Russian skill player Evgeny Kuznetsov.

      “I figured out what it took to win consistently,” Hathaway said of his time with the Caps. “I was put into a situation where they were used to winning. It was a winning culture. That’s what it was going in and that’s what I wanted to be a part of.

      “A lot of the day-in, day-out stuff I was able to pick up on.”

      The Capitals began to fade from contention over the past year or two and weren’t predicted to do much this season.

      Yet here we are in early March and “Ovi” and the boys are still in the midst of a good fight for a postseason berth.

      “It’s a super-competitive group,” Hathaway offered. “I’d say this year they have had guys who have stepped up. Younger guys have come in and some guys are having their best seasons that they probably haven’t had in the past.”

      All this even though Ovechkin was in probably the worst scoring slump of his career. Through 54 games he had only 16 games and that’s just not up to his standard.

      Others, such as Ryan Strome, Anthony Mantha and Connor McMichael have picked up the slack. Carlson remains a force and stands second overall in team points with 33 (prior to Friday night’s game).

      “A guy like Mantha is playing really well,” Hathaway said. “He’s a great player and it’s nice to see him play up to his potential.

      “And they have a deep veteran core. Also, some young guys who have been in their system for a long time.”

      Hathaway gives the impression he enjoys going back to his old stomping grounds. Plus, this game meant something for both teams.

      “Every game from here on out we have to find ways to get points,” he said. “The rest of the way is what is going to help us make the playoffs.”

      Many believe Ovechkin still has a shot to catch Wayne Gretzky for the all-time NHL goal scoring lead. Before Friday night’s game, the Great One’s 894 goals now seem catchable as Ovechkin has 838 and probably a couple more years left of that infamous slap shot from the left circle.

      “You always have to know where ‘Ovi’ is,” Hathaway said with a grin. “I think he’s the best scorer in the game, consistently, for a long time now. He’s always looking to shoot. He’s a guy you have to pay a lot of attention to.”

      Hathaway began the season in a fourth-line checking role with Nick Deslauriers and Ryan Poehling. Both Poehling and Hathaway have created more offense and now they’ve been skating with Noah Cates on a very effective line. In a recent win over Tampa Bay, all three were a plus-3.

      “We’ve been checking a lot, playing the right way,” Hathaway said. “We’re playing well in our D-zone. That’s helped us transition. They’re both smart and that helps us get down the ice really quick. And we’ve been able to hold onto pucks, that’s been a big part of our offense.”


Avatar photo
About Wayne Fish 2472 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.