Jason Chimera: New York’s Worst Nightmare

As the focus of the “Friday the 13th” series, Jason Voorhees was the stuff of nightmares as he terrorized co-eds and moviegoers for decades.

Much to the New York Rangers’ chagrin, they have their own personal Jason who constantly haunts their dreams. Except he brandishes a hockey stick instead of a machete, dons a normal hockey helmet as opposed to a goalie mask and sprints instead of lumbers.

“We were joking about that in the intermission that this must be his team,” Troy Brouwer said of the Jason in question, Jason Chimera, after the Washington Capitals’ 2-1 win over the Rangers in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series Wednesday.

Chimera’s second-period goal – his seventh-career playoff goal, third of the series and fifth in 11 postseason games against New York dating back to last season – ultimately became the game-winner Wednesday (the fourth of his postseason career, three of which have come against the Rangers) and he scored it in what is now becoming patented fashion: “those backdoor tap-ins” as Brouwer described them. Much like his double-overtime game-winning goal in Game 4 of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Chimera crashed the net and was the benefactor of a fortunate bounce as Nicklas Backstrom conveniently tipped John Carlson’s shot right to Chimera, who only had to tap the puck into the empty net to give Washington a 2-0 lead.

“It’s nice to get those goals,” Chimera said. “It sounds corny, but that’s where you’ve got to go to score goals in the playoffs.”

There might not be a player who looks as genuinely surprised when he scores as Chimera does, but while his heroics have been magnified by the high-pressure situations of the postseason, he has had a penchant for scoring timely goals all season. Fifteen of Chimera’s 24 combined goals between the regular season and postseason have either lifted the Caps into a tie or broken one (not to mention that Chimera only had 28 regular season and postseason goals during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons combined). Also, two of Chimera’s four goals this postseason have given Washington two of its three two-goal leads.

Yet, Chimera did not earn a full-time job in the NHL by scoring goals; it was his intangibles – a hard-working ethos, good size and, most notably, his speed – that allowed him to make an impact. It was Chimera’s second gear that put the Caps on the power play only 73 seconds into the game when he blew by Anton Stralman, who had no choice but to drag Chimera down. Alex Ovechkin scored 15 seconds later.

“He’s been very good right from the start of the year,” head coach Dale Hunter said. “He’s got great speed and a big desire to win. That line, with Chimmer and [Backstrom] and [Alexander Semin] had a big game tonight. Chimmer was working his tail off killing penalties also, so he got more minutes.”

The second line of Chimera, Backstrom and Semin has been productive throughout the postseason; Wednesday, they combined for eight shots (Chimera had a team-high five) and three points. Chimera’s grinding game combined with Backstrom and Semin’s skill has made them a dangerous trio.

“He’s fast out there,” Backstrom said of his linemate. “Looks like he’s just gonna chip the puck and then he’s skating into it. It’s fun to play with him. He has a lot of speed and he’s creating a lot.”

Chimera may be 33 years old and have more hair on his chin than on the top of his head, but he said Wednesday that this season has re-energized him. And like Voorhees, that is just plain scary.

“I’ve been feeling good all year,” he said. “I feel young.”

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Filed under Capitals, NHL, Player Profile, Recap

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