Will Alex Ovechkin Rally Down The Stretch?

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Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz

Coming into this season, I referenced PDO and why it would be responsible for the Caps’ offensive woes this season. The good news is that the pendulum swings the other way too, so while this season has been quite a disappointment — even more so than I thought it might be — I think the final stretch may progress to the mean.

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Alex Ovechkin swings at the puck

Ovi swings with the knob of his stick during the Breakaway Challenge. (Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox)

Alex Ovechkin won his third straight Breakaway Challenge title tonight at the 2010-11 NHL SuperSkills Competition. How did he win it? With an unbelievable series of moves in his second and fourth attempts. In his second breakaway, Ovechkin smoothly juggled the puck in mid-air from center ice. He then knocked the puck up high up to himself, switched the position of his twig, and then swung with butt end of his stick. In his fourth and final attempt, Ovi dribbled the puck down the ice with the knob of his stick, went to his knees, got back up, and then went backhand on Marc-Andre Fleury. After he scored, Ovi sheathed his stick Chi Chi Rodriquez style as players from both benches laughed and banged their sticks against the ice. Ovechkin had a giant smile on his face the entire time.

When asked about his moves, Ovechkin replied, “I’m so excited right now, I can’t remember.” Fair enough.

Ovi and Green’s Team Staal defeated Team Lidstrom tonight 33 to 22. Below the jump, we have video of Ovechkin’s breakaway attempts and the other most noteable Capital moments of the night.

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A playful Alex Ovechkin hit up the red carpet before tonight’s 2011 NHL SuperSkills competition and spoke briefly with NHL Network’s Heidi Androl. Heidi, who seemed preoccupied with Ovechkin’s lax wardrobe, pointed out to the Russian Machine that he was missing a tie and cufflinks. Ovechkin, beaming with pride, encouraged her to check out his cuffs saying, “Look. I didn’t even do my button.” Oh man, vintage Ovi.

The Machinist: January 29, 2011

The Machinist has been moved to Saturdays to accommodate Neil’s springboard to his new advice-column career, Feed the Machine.

What happened this week? Yeah, we picked up photog supreme, Chris “Caps Snaps” Gordon, but the real big news is our Facebook “LIKE” button! Russian Machine is slowly wrapping its greasy tentacles around every corner of your social media world.

It’s All-star weekend, baby, I’m about to have me some fun. Let’s do the Machinist.

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Though they missed their scheduled morning flight out to Raleigh, Capitals’ All-Stars Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin arrived just in the knick of time for the NHL’s first ever All-Star Fantasy Draft. For Caps’ fans, the most notable moment of the draft occurred in the second round, when MG52 announced Team Staal’s selection of Ovechkin with the third overall pick. With a big grin, the Russian Machine made his way up to the stage, embraced Green, and proudly put on the fourth all-star jersey of his young career. Photos of the night can be seen below.

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Feed The Machine

Last week we opened up our lines for reader questions. To be totally frank, they’ve been way beyond our expectations. Didn’t know you had it in you; keep ‘em coming!

Now pipe down and pay attention, cause Neil’s about to drop some science on you fools.

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Is $6.7M for Alex Semin a Good Deal?

Alex Semin

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

The snow did its best to keep me from weighing in on this issue, but the good people at Pepco restored my power just in time to offer my take, which is really just a continuation on what I thought Semin was worth back in November:

Ultimately, playoff performance and contract demands will determine Semin’s fate in Washington, but the fact that teams spent 20 percent more last summer on unrestricted free agents than the summer before leads me to believe the Caps should require a significant hometown discount in order to keep their other Russian gamebreaker for years to come.

At $6.7 million for a one year contract, I don’t qualify that as a “hometown discount”, so I have to say it’s a bit high. The one year gives both sides flexibility, and maybe Semin could be pushed into earning a long-term contract with a healthy, 40-goal season next year, but that’s unlikely considering how players similar to Semin’s 2010 campaign have performed over the following two years of their similar season.

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Thrashers beat Caps 1-0, Shutout Number Seven

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Here’s a picture of Ovechkin eating snow for the billionth time. (Photo credit: Scott Cunningham)

To all our friends stuck on the roads during this crazy #thundersnow storm, safe travels. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

So the final game for the Washington Capitals before the All-Star break found them meeting the Atlanta Thrashers in the not-so-balmy temperatures of Georgia. It did not go well.

Nik Antropov settled a lucky bounce in the Caps zone, leading to an easy goal against Semyon Varlamov. That was it. No other goals. Shutout for Ondrej Pavelec. Thrashers beat Caps 1-0.

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Matt Hendricks Brings Grit, Grime, Dekes to the Caps

Hendricks Stretches

[Editor’s note: Russian Machine Never Breaks is delighted to welcome Chris Gordon of Caps Snaps to the team. Chris is an accomplished photographer and interviewer,  so he should make the rest of the staff look bad on a regular basis.]

The Washington Capitals have been struggling to score lately. Players that could be relied on for goals in the past have looked off their game, and the team’s power play has been anemic. One bright spot, however, has come an unlikely source: forward Matt Hendricks. He has had goals in each of his last two games including two deke-tastic tallies, one against the Leafs on Saturday and one in the shootout against the Rangers Monday night at Verizon Center.

“I knew he was going to do that move,” said Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who doesn’t expect opposing teams to catch on anytime soon. “He’s done it to me three or four times in practice and still scored. It took me a while to figure it out. I don’t how much video guys are going to do on Matt Hendricks,” he added with a laugh.

The 29 year-old Hendricks has become a fan favorite in Washington this season with his enthusiasm, toughness and a nasty black eye that HBO made famous.

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Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (SO), Offense M.I.A.

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Matt Hendricks celebrates his shoot-out goal. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Last time the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers met, well… it was bad. But we had higher hopes for tonight and a rejuvenated Caps offense.  Aside from Matt Hendricks and the superb Braden Holtby, we got disappointed big time.

Matt Hendricks found the perfect spot to receive a surgical pass from Marcus Johansson and turn it into a goal. Then, late in the third, Marian Gaborik scored a greasy goal following a series of puck bounces and deflections that only the Large Hadron Collider could map. And so we headed into overtime, which has been famously unkind to the Caps lately. The five-minute, four-on-four period was exciting but scoreless, and so the gimmick beckoned. The Capitals lasted until the fourth round, when Martin Biron rebuffed Marcus Johansson and Artem Anisimov beat Braden Holtby with alacrity. A lazy loss. Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (SO).

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