Russian Machine Sometimes Breaks: Surfing the Zenith

The period after Christmas and before the break is typically when teams struggle the most.  It’s odd then that Washington Capitals have made January their most winning month.  The last thing any team wants to do is peak too soon, especially before the end of the regular season. After winning seven thunderous games in a row, it’s about time the Caps come back down to Earth and mount another surge for the post-season. To ensure that, here are some injury updates:

  • Jose Theodore skipped the final period of last night’s Islanders game. As per usual, the Caps staff declined to describe the nature Theo’s injury beyond the perfunctory “lower-body injury.” I’ve reviewed the game tape, but I’m unable to ascertain the nature of the injury. As such, Russian Machine has commissioned his (smokin-hot) wife Stéphanie to investigate Jose’s lower body more vigorously.
  • Our spies at Kettler shoe-phoned to inform us that Semyon Varlamov is skating today. Semyon’s lower half has completely failed him since December; we hope his junk is still under warranty. It’s encouraging that Varly is skating, but he is definitely not taking shots. The Olympics now seem unlikely, and our heart aches for Varly. It’d be selfish of us to be glad that Semyon will get more rest before the playoffs when it comes at the cost of such a big personal goal. Therefore, we must hope either that his recovery drastically hastens, or that he’s still a superstar goalie in 2014.
  • As the previous two bullets have made clear, the Capitals now have a full-blown goalie crisis. What a world away we are now from the halcyon “Which awesome goalie shall we play tonight?” days of November. To fill the ranks, the organization has recalled Braden Holtby from the Hershey Bears. It’s one of our distinct pleasures as Caps fans that we get to see promising players from the organization’s stellar farm club. In the last few years, we’ve enjoyed standout performances from Matthieu Perrault, Karl Alzner, Semyon Varlamov, Captain America, and many more. I’m not well educated on the Bears, so I’m spending some time today learning about Braden, and I like what I see (.935 save % on 506 SOG). Let’s just hope he doesn’t hang around D.C. too long.
  • Exchanging a Top Gun high five with Holtby somewhere around York, PA, is Karl Alzner, who has been returned to Hershey’s care. Karl has only an even +/- from his recent four-game stint, but we recall fondly his crucial assist on David Steckel’s GWG. Plus, Karl got to hang out at Casino Night (check out Emily Karol’s terrific story if you haven’t already).
  • Brian Pothier. I don’t really have any news on the dude, but then again I’m not a real journalist. Let’s just assume he’s going to play tonight.
  • He’s not on our team, but Jack Hillen‘s faceblock last night was too monstrous not to mention.  After attempting to catch an Ovechkin slapshot with his teeth, Jack fell to the ice with a bloody, wet thud.  The Islanders report that Hillen broke his jaw and several teeth.  He’ll miss 6-8 weeks, but Quentin Laing has already promised to send over a dandy protein milkshake recipe.  Poor guy.

Tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks (24-22-7) begins at 7 PM. Russian Machine has a correspondent on location to document. Will the goalie problems discussed above end the Caps winning streak? Will Braden Holtby submarine some dude at center ice? Will Matt Bradley (whose jersey, it seems, I must now buy) secure a hat trick? Tune in and find out.

Wednesday Webhits: The Frost King’s Links Of The Week

This week we’ve got a study on the age at which hockey players are at their peak (an important consideration when looking to sign a guy to a long-term contract), a look at what kind of conclusions you can draw from how a team does over various stretches of time, what it appears goalies are awarded three stars for, and a new stat based on plus-minus and Corsi.

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Caps Beat Isles 7-2

Frederick Lost a Great Man Today. RIP Dave.

Frederick Lost a Great Man Today. RIP Dave.

[Our apologies. The Russian Machine cannot deliver its usual, happy-go-lucky game recap tonight. A dear friend of the staff, Sgt. David Smith, USMC; died this afternoon from injuries sustained during a bombing in Afghanistan over the weekend. Our pal Dave was only 25 years old.]

It shouldn’t take a tragedy to do this, but we are reminded that the comfort and safety we enjoy at home are ensured by a stalwart volunteer military. We offer our continued and profound gratitude to the men and women in uniform.

We promise to return to our regularly scheduled snarkiness tomorrow evening. In the meantime, we hope you enjoyed the Capitals’ 7-2 win over the New York Islanders.

 

Emily Karol Rocks the Mic with Jeff Schultz on the Guitar and Jose Theodore on the Drums at the Caps Care Casino

[Ed. Note: Since the RMNB group members are stationed everywhere in this area except for DC and Northern Virginia, we again had to miss out on an awesome event run by the Washington Capitals. But lucky for us, fan of the Blog, and mini-celebrity of the day Emily Karol was here to bail us out with all the details, photos and gossip. Take it away, Emily!]

Emily’s Summary of the Event

This past Sunday, I was lucky enough to attend the first-ever CapsCare Casino and Auction. Let me preface this piece with telling you, I’m an actress trying to make it in this crazy world and only had enough money for a VIP ticket and nothing else. So sadly, I didn’t bid on any of the auctions and the $50,000 “fun bucks” they gave us remained in my program the whole evening. I forgot to trade it in for the 5 raffle tickets, eh… c’est la vie.

Emily Getting Ready For the Event

Emily Getting Ready For the Event

I booked a room at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center for the evening. They offered a discounted rate for a huge room if you were with the Capitals and I knew I would not be capable of driving my car the hour it would take me to get back to Annapolis, MD. Anyways, Check-In for the event began at 6pm, with the VIP portion starting at 6:30. I was, of course, fashionably late and didn’t arrive until a mere 5 minutes before the VIP party began. The line was long and the ages ranged from 60′s to 21. (No one under 21 the whole event, there was an open bar after all. Two in the VIP room and four in the casino).

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To our surprise, the Russian Machine awoke this morning (okay, 1PM) to quite possibly the greatest email he will ever receive since starting this blog a few months ago. It read, simply: “TheHornGuy is now following you on Twitter!” See below:

The Horn Guy Follows The Russian Machine On Twitter

Yes, after multiple failed attempts to get his attention (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), some soul-searching, giving up, and then trying again, The Horn Guy, el toot de extraordinare, is now following us. Commence celebrating… now!

Why is this important? Why are we so happy? Check out why below the fold:

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Alex Ovechkin Skates With The Puck In The Offensive Zone

It’s been a wild week for the Washington Capitals. They’ve downed the Flyers, Wings, and those damned Penguins all within a a few days. I was skeptical about the team’s ability to continue the streak tonight against the Coyotes simply because they didn’t have the same emotional motivation they had for the last few games. Well, it seems that the Capitals don’t need mile-high stakes to fight for a game. Tonight’s match against the visiting Coyotes was an opportunity for the so-called “second-tier” Capitals players to shine, and shine they did. The Caps won tonight’s battle against Phoenix 4-2.

I don’t want to keep you from getting your Saturday-night drink on. Let’s play the bullets:

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Caps in Russia: Updates on Kozlov, Fedorov, Zednik, Jagr & More

Richard Zednik and Chris Simon chat during a KHL Game

We Miss You, Sergei.

We Miss You, Sergei.

We finally have another update from Fedor Fedin. It’s been awhile, but it’s for good reason. Since the KHL is about to wrap up the first half of it’s current season, we  gave Fedor the tall task of tracking down every KHL player with any Washington Capital ties and asked him to let us know how they’ve been doing – good or bad.  So basically if a guy has played for the Capitals in the past (Andrei Nikolishin), played on one of our AHL Affiliated Teams (Brandon Sugden), or been drafted by the team (Dmitri Orlov), they’re on the list.  We thought this was a good idea because we honestly miss some of our favorite erstwhile Caps from the past like: Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov, Richard Zednik, and Chris Simon, and thought this would be a great opportunity for everyone to get caught up.  Sadly, that human-ball-of-waste known as Jaromir Jagr is on the list, too, but since he’s one of Fedor’s favorite players on Avangard Omsk, we’re going to let it slide.

Anyways, below the fold is a huge table full of stats and information on all the Former Caps in the KHL.

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Remainders: 01/22/10

Lots of stories about a game don’t develop until the next day. My job now is to scoop up that delicious hockey news afterbirth and force feed it to you.

  • Mike Green received a “treatment” for whatever is ailing him.  Seeing the flopsweat and grim pallor during his post-practice interview, I have a feeling Mike is under the weather, not injured.  The treatment could be  Z-pak (an antibiotic course) that can make you feel pretty crummy.  Then again, it could be Cipro to cure whatever diseases he caught spending that stack of singles he carries with him on road games.
  • Tarik El-Bashir asked coach Bruce Boudreau about Semyon Varlamov‘s status.  The wunderkind hasn’t practiced in days,  and he dusted up a kerfuffle this week when his Olympic prospects were shifted to a presumptive no.  Bruce reports that Varly is expected to practice on Monday, but we’re not holding our breath.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a delightful write-up of last night’s hockey game.  Their diagnosis doesn’t cite a dysfunctional Pittsburgh team, but rather gives credit for the win to the Caps, who are surging right now.  This is a savvy analysis.   I bet the Pens are going to be cautious on February 7th and reticent to give up penalties.
  • Rock the Red was forced to watch last night’s game on FSN Pittsburgh.  In their write-up, they disembowel the coverage.  I know only Joe B and Locker’s play-by-play, so it’s hard for me to detect bias; but those guys will call out the home team they’re out of line.  The CSN-DC team is great, although I can think of one pick-up they should look into….
  • Corey Masisak (formerly of the Washington Times) hosted a great chat for CSN Washington last night.  Most of the talk circled around trade speculation and D.C.’s desire for another top-tier defenseman.   Corey was a gracious host, and CSN would be wise to snatch him up before someone else does.
  • Jose Theodore on his goal:  “I kinda screwed up.”  Well, yeah.
  • Bryan Pothier and John Erskine are back, so John Carlson is headed back to Hershey.  The kid is bad-ass, and I’m certain we’ll see him again!  In the meantime, it’ll be novel to have a full compliment of blueliners.
  • We actually got some more Anti Pens artwork after we posted yesterday, and figured it was worth sharing. This is from Savannah Morrissey who is one of many who believes Crosby and Malkin are potentially hiding something. Here are her series of photos:
    Part I: They’re Caught | Part II: Sidney Speaks | Part III: Evgeni Speaks!!
  • Raised-in-a-blog-cabin Ian Oland called me after the game to report on the Japers Rink/Puck Daddy viewing party.  He was particularly excited to have met TheHornGuy.  I would be, too.  The man is a living legend.  He promised to follow us on Twitter, and we will hold him to it.
  • If you haven’t checked out the comments thread on our Artwork post, go ahead and do it now.  The whole thread will soon be wrapped in police tape, filed as evidence for crimes against the English language.  All kidding aside, cheers to the good people behind Pensblog.  They run a great site and have the distinct misfortune of serving an audience of adolescent chimpanzees.  We do not envy them this.

Have a great Friday, everyone!

 

Sweet Revenge! Caps Beat Pens 6-3

Nicky Backstrom keeps the power play perfect

Nicky Backstrom keeps the power play perfect

“Can’t lose.” – Me, 22 hours ago.

It’s hard not to sound like an amateur here. There are expectations when committing a game to print.  We must write with a detached, sober tone befitting the excellent journalistic standards demanded by our audience.

Well, screw that noise. Tonight’s game deserves hollerin’, and hollerin’ is what we will give it. It’s not often that the Caps get a chance to redeem themselves against their biggest rival. It’s been only eight months since Washington sputtered out in that notorious game 7, and the memory is still fresh in our minds. But like Ray, Egon, and Venkman before them, the Washington Capitals have exorcised the ghost of that loss in tonight’s stunning 6-3 game.  Vindication is the word you’re looking for.

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The Russian Machine Happily Presents Anti-Pens Artwork

Look. We’re not going to sugarcoat it, we freakin’ hate the Penguins. A vengeful, angry hate. As a small lad, I vividly remember staying up until 3AM, only to watch Petr Nedved score a 4OT goal against the Capitals (shown below) which subsequently knocked my favorite team out of the ’96 playoffs. Did I cry all night and not sleep? Did I fail a test in middle school because of this?

Ugh. Take it down!

Sadly, It’s not just one singular event that has scarred me this bad. The Caps have lost in the playoffs to the Penguins 7 of 8 times including last year’s horrible Game 7 which Peter wrote about last night, and mentally I’m just completely jacked up because of this. Maybe the players aren’t. But I am. I remember 2 years ago, I went to see a Caps Pens game at the Verizon Center. What happened? The Caps jumped out to a 4-1 lead (scored the first three goals) and lost to them in a shootout 5-4. Did I start wildly punching a Verizon Center chair in anger when Crosby sealed the game with his shootout goal? You bet I did. Did I boo him everytime he touched the puck because I thought the NHL was giving him preferential treatment over Ovechkin? Damn straight.

Well now since I’m considered an adult (barely), it’s time to be more mature. However, that does not apply to our readers. A few days ago, I asked our fans to send us their Anti-Pens artwork, and boy did they respond. Below the fold, check out some of what was sent out way. Remember, laughing and trying to humiliate our opponent is meant to be a therapeutic way of letting out our anger. And no, this probably isn’t work appropriate – so beware!!!!

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