Are the Caps sizing up Kovalchuk? Let’s hope not!

Michael Nylander has left a hole beneath the salary cap to the tune of $4 million. Nylander’s awkward and only somewhat amicable exit from the Washington Capitals opens up doors of possibility for the team. Naive I was to think that this discussion need not happen until nearer the draft or at least the trade deadline. Nope, we’re already hearing rumors that the Caps are interested in Ilya Kovalchuk. The left winger superstar has been firmly ensconced in Atlanta since 2001, and his hefty salary is still greater than what was freed up by Nylander’s exit. So what’s gonna give? Well, it better not be my boy, Alexander Semin!

Listen. Try not to act shocked, but this site is called Russian Machine Never Breaks, so we’re sort of in the business of hyping up the Sashas and the junior goalie with the currently sore crotch. Sure, Kovalchuk is a Russian, too, but then we won’t be able to do the “Lesser Sasha” and “Sasha Proper” jokes. Really, our Sasha joke quotient will be cut in half. Plus, there’s also that I think Semin is a terrific hockey player and an asset to the team.

The current Caps roster is built around Alexander Ovechkin, right? So wouldn’t the adding of another star left wing dilute that focus? Semin compliments Ovechkin, and on some days he outshines him. Kovalchuk’s numbers (593 points in 573 games) aren’t even that much better than Semin’s (244 points in 278 games), or at least perhaps not good enough to excuse the salary differential.

Yeah, I’m aware of the problems with Semin. He willfully won’t speak English, he went AWOL after the lockout, he gives up offensive-zone penalties like a (offensive joke about senior prom here), and he’s got more flash than substance. Guess what? I don’t care. Alexander Semin is under the wizardly guidance of Bruce “You had me at no problem” Boudreau. Bruce is upfront about his unhappiness with the lesser Sasha (see? You don’t wanna lose that!), and I think we’ve seen Semin respond with increased discipline and focus since returning from his wrist injury.

Alexander Semin’s presence on the Caps rewards both him and the team. Yeah, Kovalchuk is attractive, but we can’t ditch our date everytime some flirty girl at the other end of the bar flashes us a kind look. And if this truly is a championship season after all, we ought not mess with the magic halfway into it.

(This post’s Sasha count = 5)

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Epic Comeback! Caps trounce Oilers 4-2

This Caps fan has tonight lost his voice from shouting at the meh-definition signal from Comcast SportsNet Plus. You can’t blame me; the Washington Capitals had a lot to shout about last night. For forty minutes it seemed like the defensemen were not equal to the task and the offense were offensively inert. The Caps, leading the Southeast division, somehow trailed the Oilers, bottom of the Northwest, by two goals going into the 3rd period. Snowbound Caps fans across the east coast buttressed themselves for another pathetic loss to a Canadian team.

And then Alexander Ovechkin showed up. The world’s best hockey player and the man my girlfriend calls “Ovenchicken” performed a hero’s task in Edmonton last night, singlehandedly pulling the boys from F Street out of a two-goal deficit. After one determined stuff manuever and another sick Ovechkian angle goal off a rebound, the Caps had renewed life. Flash and Backstrom put the nail in the coffin, and all was right in the world again:  Caps beat Oilers 4-2.

  • CSN+ has a terrible signal. The first five minutes of ice time were tinged Viagra blue, and this Caps fan couldn’t discern Laing’s 53 from Green’s 52 for most of the game. Over the airwaves, Joe Beninati‘s exotic tie patterns read like some kind of vomitous fever dream.
  • Karl Alzner‘s masterful deflection into his own goal may be the punctuation at the end of his time in the NHL. His D pairing with Tyler Sloan (-1 plus/minus for the season) was particularly incompetent last night, but his kick into our own net was unforgivable. Hershey may be a better fit for his hijinx. Am I being unfair? Let me know in the comments below.
  • I can’t single out Alzner, as the whole defensive effort was pathetic last night. The Oilers’ offensive tactics were eerily similar to Boudreau’s Caps, what with the dumping and chasing and moving behind the goal line. Our defense was unable to chase down loose pucks behind the blue and clear it out, and that made those two soft goals against Neuvirth possible.
  • Jeff Schultz is on my list, too. His careless pass at center ice led to a breakaway goal for the Oilers – one night after this terrible miscue. At least when Mike Green pulled that same nonsense a few weeks ago, he had the good sense to follow it up with a make-up goal.
  • Alexander Ovechkin‘s 3rd period illustrated everything we love about the caveman.  I don’t know what Bruce Boudreau said in the locker room at the 2nd intermission, but Alex definitely heard it.  His goals owed as much to grit as they did talent, and he pulled the rest of the team up with him.  Last night demonstrated once again why Capitals hockey is the most exciting hockey in the league.
  • But Steve Staios is paste-eating crazy.  Several times the Oiler’s PK man jumped in front of Ovie’s lightning-fast slappers like he was the Edmontonian Quentin Laing or something. This guy deserves a lot of credit for neutering the Caps’ powerplay last night.
  • Was the Caps top line (“The Tiger Beat line”) -2 in the first 40 minutes of the game? Yikes.
  • Tomas Fleischmann‘s go-ahead goal was exemplary, but he followed it immediately with a lazy penalty. If that’s not a microcosm of the Caps fatal flaw, I don’t know what is.
  • If your hockey team cannot convert 1:51 of 5-on-3 into a goal, you’re not worthy of Lord Stanley’s Cup. I attribute this failure to Edmonton’s fantastic PK unit as much as our own incompetence. Either way, this is the second time this season our boys have struggled with completion anxiety across multiple games. Let’s hope we get our groove back against Buffalo.
  • Spongebob Squarepants Hilary Duff was at the game last night. For the record, Russian Machine prefers Miley Cyrus.

So I imagine by now the boys have landed in D.C. and are finding their respective homes buried under two feet of snow. If I hear about Mike Green or Alexander Semin spraining their backs while shoveling snow, I’m going to flip out. Stay mellow, watch The Jersey Shore, and drink a gingerbread latte. Three day’s rest is a fair reward for a successful trip to the tundra.

Chris Clark vs. Steve Staios Fight

If some of you missed it, since nothing happened here except bear hugs and helmet punching, here is the fight between Washington Capitals captain Chris Clark and Edmonton Oilers Defenseman Steve Staios. Who won – minus the PA Annoucer who put on that country song in the middle of the scrap? Well, neither got in a good shot, and when the takedown happened, both players seemingly fell to the ice on their sides at the same time. So we’re going to rule this one a draw, and a total yawn.

Thanks to for the video.

Last night on Twitter, while I was in character, a few requests were made to me after the Caps 3-2 Loss to the Vancouver Canucks:

  • edmorgans: @russianmachine Can you “lose” Poti in a snow drift somewhere between Vancouver and Edmonton? No one would suspect you!!!
  • jdb820: @russianmachine Can you do to Poti what you did to Nylander?

While it’s still unclear to me what Ovechkin did to Nylander (give him vodka and an ikea gift card?), I don’t get the anger towards Tom Poti. Yes, Tom Poti took a tremendously ill-timed third period penalty for cross-checking. Yes, as he skated over to the penalty box, he completely showed up the referee, slammed the penalty box door and got awarded another penalty – making his costly 2 minute minor an even more terrible double minor. Yes, the Canucks scored during the first penalty, took a 3-2 lead they’d never relinquish, and then used the second minor penalty to erase another 2 minutes of valuable comeback time. Alright so I get it. His penalty is what allowed the Canucks to win the game.

But I’m not going to throw him under the bus. Poti is a key veteran on this team, and the penalty he took last night was at best a questionable call by the referee. He shouldn’t of cross-checked Canucks agitator Alex Burrows so high, but it was painfully clear to me that Burrows dove. If you’re going to take a penalty though, an aggressive play in the defensive zone is alright by me. Now the hooking and holding penalties Alex Semin has taken in the third period of other games – in the offensive zone – is another story.

But last night, I was more peeved with Jeff Schultz’s ill-timed own goal in the first period. Take a look Below:

Jose Theodore stopped a hooked Ryan Kesler breakaway attempt after Mike Green tried to obstruct the star winger. Schultz, who trailed on the play, came up to the stopped puck, tried to kick it from skate to stick, and then watched the goal slowly enter the yawning net in horror. Because there was a penalty in the process of being called, Bruce Boudreau begged the officials to take away the tally, because he believed Schultz demonstrated possession of the puck. I completely disagree however, because if Schultz had possession, he wouldn’t of kicked the freakin puck in the net.

So as I start reading Tarik El-Bashir’s recap in his blog, this is what I read in his introduction:

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Per @tarikelbashir: Semyon Varlamov’s first full practice did not go as well as expected. He said he felt a bit of twinge and definitely won’t play tomorrow.

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Russian Machine's First T-Shirt

Russian Machine

Okay, so this post’s actually a day late, but I wanted to officially invite you to the Grand Opening of our new Russian Machine Never Breaks Spreadshirt Store.

Yes, I totally ripped off the T-Shirt Tuesday slogan from the Orioles (who probably ripped it off of someone else) and no, we will never have an Ollie’s Bargain Night.

What is a Spreadshirt Store? Well it’s basically a place where the Russian Machine is going to outfit you with nicely designed t-shirts for a small pittance. Shirts will be available for men, women, kids and our ever growing Big and Tall crowd.

Every Tuesday from now until the end of the regular season, we’re going to be releasing a new t-shirt design. Some of our hockey-related designs may be serious, some may be weird, some may make you question humanity, and some may make make your friends think you’re racist hilarious . Who knows? But this is going to be epic.

What makes us so sure? Well, we’ve had some great success at another blog you’ve might of heard of and we’re totally cocky this time around. Being mentioned on SportsCenter and having one of the most popular national baseball writers wearing your tshirt will do that. And this too. Kids are so cute!

For our first shirt, we’re going to keep it simple. The official Russian Machine Never Breaks Logo on a white t-shirt. It’s available for Men, Women and Kids sizes for $13.95. Once the first week passes, we will up the prices of the shirt for it’s standard price. So if you dig it, makes sense to buy now.

We’ll be providing coupon codes for our shirts on our Facebook Fan Page and our Twitter Account periodically. So make sure you join, so you can be in the know.

Anyways, let us know what you think. And if you have any special requests, shoot us an email and we’ll consider. Happy shopping!

Domination in Denver: Caps beat Avs 6-1

There’s a Mike Green-shaped stain on the glass at Denver tonight.

The Capitals’ 6-1 domination over the Avalanches shouldn’t be reduced to a single nasty hit, but our journalistic spidey sense tells us that if it bleeds, it ledes. We’ve worried in the past that the team depends too much on Mike Green‘s ice presence, and perhaps other teams are starting to notice, too. In a moment of impotent rage, 240-pound David Koci smeared D-man Greenie into the glass. The poor man’s Chris Cooley did not get up for some time, and did not return to the ice. Russian Machine Never Breaks World Headquarters (located several stories beneath the Green Turtle in historic downtown Frederick) is outfitted with a dedicated, secure phone line for a situations just like this. As soon the Green phone rings, we’ll update you.

What else happened tonight? The Caps beat the living snow out of Colorado.

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Michael Nylander’s $4 Million Can Buy You…

  • 10 Major League Baseball players making the league minimum.
  • 66,796 copies of EA Sport’s NHL 2010 video game for XBox.
  • 666,666 copies of an autographed 8×10 photo of Nylander in a Hartford Whalers uniform (currently retailing for $6 on eBay).
  • 133,333 tickets to the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington featuring UCLA vs. Temple (cheapest ticket is retailing for $30 on
  • 100 print sports reporters to cover the Washington Capitals (assuming the writers are making $40,000, a real stretch)

Incredible right? We’re only up for a week, and we already have an exclusive.

We all know by now that Alex Ovechkin has had a few unfortunate run-ins with Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason.

One led to a 2 game suspension a few weeks ago:

and one led to a pretty disgusting facial laceration (that’s him with the 30 stitches and full face shield):

Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark.

Well we managed to get our hands on a 100% fake hand-crafted card Alex Ovechkin recently sent to Tim Gleason in apology. Hopefully this clears up any ill-will between the two, and we can all just move on. Check out the card below the jump.

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Per The Washington Post, Tarik El Bashir is reporting that Michael Nylander and his $4.875 Million Annual Cap Hit has finally been removed from the Caps roster. He was assigned on a standard loan to the Detroit Red Wings AHL Affiliate Grand Rapid Griffins where he can still finish the year with over 230 Assists if he tries. Can I have a Hallelujah?

Though the Russian Machine firmly believes that George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau are mostly to blame for this bad relationship – meaning they bought expensive goods they never really needed in the first place and then played “hardball” when it officially backfired – we’re happy to see the hard-headed Nyles still has some pride left in himself and wants to continue playing hockey while collecting a weekly paycheck most of us don’t make in a year.

Look we get it. The Caps proved they could play without Nylander in 2007-08 when he was out almost the entire season with a rotator cuff injury. And we also get that when Nylander was healthy, he had one of the worst plus minuses on the team. But George, why did you give him a no-trade clause? Can you or someone in the organization please explain that?

Now some of you may say, “Hey, we had to get arid of Nyles because he basically ignored what Bruce coached him to do.” Okay, maybe that’s fair. If you don’t get what I mean, check out the dry-erase board graphics below the jump:

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