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Mike Knuble on being like cattle

Knuble, from long distance. (By Nick Wass - AP)

Two years ago this month, Mike Knuble scored the game-winning double-overtime goal that put the Caps down 3-1 against the Flyers. He said it was by far the biggest goal of his career, and it came from maybe a couple inches in front of the net.

"When he gets planted there," Daniel Brière said at the time, "nobody's going to move him."

That's what the Caps were after when they signed Knuble last summer. He went on to score 29 goals this season, many from a distance roughly equal to Alex Ovechkin's tooth gap -- Knuble estimated that his longest goal of the season came from 15 feet out. These are unglamorous grunt-work sort of goals, the hockey equivalent of copy-editing a Mike Wise "Caps bandwagon" column.

But Knuble wasn't brought to Washington to feast on leftover scraps during January and February. He was brought here to wipe clean the Tupperware in April, May and June, even when the Tupperware is filled with crusted-over week-old lentil chili. Okay, that's not the greatest metaphor. Knuble, you got anything better?

"I think I know what they want out of me," Knuble said. "That's something I really can achieve, and something I don't have to overachieve to do....It's not always easy to snap pucks around the ice and execute pretty plays all the time [in the playoffs]," Knuble continued. "Guys like Brooks [Laich] and I, that's what we've done very well this year. We go to the net. We're like cattle. I mean, you know where you're gonna eat down there, so you're gonna keep going back."

So he's saying his style isn't pretty?

"Well, I hope it's appreciated," Knuble said. "But we're not making any highlights. On SportsCenter, we won't be on many clips probably. You might see the name in the blurb on the ticker, but you won't see the goal."

Even if it isn't TV friendly, though, teammates love this kind of stuff, as you might guess.

"We tell him if you add up all your goals it probably wouldn't get to the blue line," Brendan Morrison pointed out. "And he doesn't care. I mean, I wouldn't care either if I was scoring that many goals."

"Oh man, he's your poster boy for a playoff player," Mike Green said. "He's a guy that will go to the front of the net and score those gringy goals....He's the guy that'll go to the net to score those goals, and there's not many guys that'll do that. He's a gringy player. He'll go to the dirty areas to score."

"It's truly amazing how he scores his goals," Eric Fehr added. "If I can score a few goals like that in the next couple years, I'd be really happy. They just hit him and they go in. People that watch it think it's luck, but he's been doing it for five, 10 years now, so he obviously knows what he's doing."

At 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds, Knuble outweighs all but two of the Montreal defensemen. But somehow he seems to play even bigger than that.

"He's just a solid rock," said Green, who skated against Knuble during that 2008 series. "Honestly, I don't know what it is about him, you just can't move him."

"He's big and he's strong, and in seven-game series, guys like that wear you down," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It just makes sense that the bigger stronger guy is gonna feel better than a guy that's small, for want of a better phrase."

Knuble frequently makes fun of his goals, talking about how unsightly they are, but no one much cares at this time of year. That's sort of why he's here. If cattle wasn't an apt enough animal simile for him -- and Boudreau has also called him "a moose" -- Knuble has another way of explaining why he spends so much time on hanging around the net.

"You know where you're gonna get rewarded," he said. "Like a dog, right? There's the treat, go get 'em."

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 14, 2010; 2:27 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: A Montreal reporter's favorite Ovechkin story


Knubs has just about overtaken Brads as my 2nd favorite Cap. They are neck-and-neck at this point. I'll be looking for him to score that OT goal we got from Feds last year in Round 1. Go Knuuuuubs!

Posted by: JillC | April 14, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"From Feds in OT in round 1"..... Did I miss something??? Feds scored in game 7 with about 4-5 mins left in the 3rd.

Posted by: darrylrbaker | April 14, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I would think editing a Wise colunm, especially about the NHL or hockey, would be hard work. hehehe

Posted by: Hattrik | April 14, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"even when the Tupperware is filled with crusted-over week-old lentil chili"

Your vegetarianism is impoverishing your metaphorical imagination here.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | April 14, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

@darrylbaker - I meant GWG, not OT. Brain is fried today.

Posted by: JillC | April 14, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Um, "gringy"? Not once but twice? Did Mike Green just coin a portmanteau, or did I just miss this word entering the lexicon?

Posted by: NateinthePDX | April 14, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

It's an Alberta thing, Nate. You wouldn't (want to) understand.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | April 14, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Ah, of course, stevie, makes sense now. Our countries are so close geographically, but so far apart... on paper, we have the English language in common, but in practice, I'm soory, that's just not the case.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | April 14, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, at the end of the day, it's still all aboot the commonalities, eh?

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | April 14, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I know I am not the 1st to say this but they don't as how, they ask how many. I like his low key demeanor. He provides an anchor for the young guys like mentioning to OV that he might want to cool it so he doesn't hurt himself.

Posted by: chopin224 | April 14, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

>>These are unglamorous grunt-work sort of goals, the hockey equivalent of copy-editing a Mike Wise column.

Burn! :) Or is that some sort of compliment? :D

Posted by: blackjack65 | April 14, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

If Mike Knuble had been on Team USA this year we would have won the gold.

Posted by: rademaar | April 14, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

What does "gringy" mean? Like "grungy"? Is it really a portmanteau of gritty and grungy? And Bog, did you know what it meant when Mike Green used it? Be honest.

Posted by: kinokonoko | April 14, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Love me the slop goals. Dino! ... Dino! ...

Posted by: reddog278 | April 14, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Showtime !!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: outrbnksm | April 15, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Is it 7 o'clock yet??

Posted by: bluejeener1 | April 15, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

>>>the hockey equivalent of copy-editing a Mike Wise "Caps bandwagon" column<<<


Posted by: live1 | April 15, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Love it!

Posted by: NatyBG | April 15, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Ted said best off-season pickup since he's owned the team. I heartily agree. They may not be pretty but they count just as much.

Posted by: psujohn | April 15, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The picture at the top of this post says it all: Knuble poking the puck into the net from BEHIND the goalie. I mean, really, how much better does it get?

Posted by: chrisd3 | April 15, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

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