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“Well the skating was certainly something that came naturally,” he affirms. “I worked hard at it to develop a good skating stride as well as strength when I finally started playing as a pro. The shot was something that I had to work hard on, a lot. It’s one thing to have a pretty hard shot but it’s another to have a hard and accurate shot. I used to shoot hundreds of pucks all the time to try and perfect the accuracy of my shot.”
Gartner scored 48 goals and 94 points in 1980-81, his second season with the Capitals. In ’81-82, he had 35 goals and 80 points. But despite the presence of Gartner, Walter, Dennis Maruk, Bengt Gustafsson and rookie sensations Bobby Carpenter and Chris Valentine on the roster, the Capitals missed the playoffs for the eighth straight season. When you’ve got five 30-goal scorers on your team, that’s tough to swallow.
So one of the 30-goal scorers (Walter) was packaged in the Langway deal and the Capitals finally began their upward trend in the NHL standings. Gartner scored 38 goals and 76 points in 1982-83 but more importantly, the team registered 94 points and made the playoffs for the first time. Bear 3D Doormat
In 1983-84, Gartner led the Caps in scoring – the first of three times he would accomplish that feat – with 85 points. He had a career year in 1984-85 with 50 goals and 102 points. Carpenter complemented him with 53 goals of his own and the “Goal Dust Twins” led the Caps to a second straight 101-point season. The points and goals and wins kept coming, but the one thing that mattered the most was still eluding Gartner and his teammates. They couldn’t win in the playoffs.
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