Matt Hendricks re-signs

Photo by RMNB’s own Chris Gordon

The Washington Capitals announced Wednesday that they have signed forward Matt Hendricks to a two-year contract extension worth $800,000 per season. The Blaine, Minnesota native has become a fan favorite this year — his first as a Capital. After coming to training camp on a professional try-out, Hendricks signed a one-year deal with the Caps in September. He has made a name for himself in DC with his enthusiasm, grit and willingness to drop the gloves and fight blindfolded.

After breaking into the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche in 2009 on a two-way contract, Hendricks has finally inked himself to his first career one-way deal. The signing caps off a productive week for the 29 year-old. Blaine High School — Hendricks’ alma mater — retired his former number 10 jersey over the weekend.

Concerning Hendricks’ contract itself, it provides a good value to the Capitals with little downside. We can evaluate the deal using the Goals Versus Salary (GVS) metric, which measures a player’s offensive and defensive contributions in goals relative to what the team should expect given the player’s salary.

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Can The Capitals Win The Southeast Division?

Alex Ovechkin celebrates

Photo credit: Don Heupel

The Washington Capitals are in second place in the Southeast Division, only one point behind the leading Tampa Bay Lightning with 21 games remaining this season. Can the Caps catch them?

As usual, we will ask the Monte Carlo Machine to simulate the rest of the season. To determine the chance of winning any individual game we will use the Log5 method. Log5 is a method of estimating the winning percentage when two teams play each other. The formula is:

W%(A v. B) = W%(A)*(1 – W%(B))/(W%(A)*(1 – W%(B)) + (1 – W%(A))*W%(B))

Since we know what the win percentage is for both Washington and Tampa Bay, and their remaining schedule, we can pop these results in, run the Machine 10,000 times and see how often the Caps come out ahead of the Lightning in the division.

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Michal Neuvirth and Karl Alzner celebrate after the Capitals 1-0 shutout of the Penguins

Karl Alzner congratulates Michal Neuvirth on his third shutout of the year and second straight blanking of the Penguins. (Photo credit: Gregory Shamus)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates his second period goal, his fifth powerplay goal of the year. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates his second period goal, his fifth power play marker of the year. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

After besting the Sabres on Sunday, the Capitals took the 178 mile journey down to Pittsburgh to take on a depleted Penguins team. Much was up for the taking Monday night. With a win versus the Pens, the Caps could go finish their pivotal 5-game road trip above .500, move within a point of the Lightning for the Southeast lead and take the season series with Pittsburgh. But despite their injuries, the Penguins remained no slouch. Added with the motivation of playing a Washington team that defeated them on Feb. 6 and in the Winter Classic, the Capitals couldn’t take the Penguins for granted. And they didn’t.

The first period, though scoreless, was certainly energetic. Both teams weren’t afraid to mix it up and play physical as the goalies shut things down. The Caps may have been outshot 18-7 for the frame but they were not without opportunities, including an Alex Ovechkin breakaway chance where the Great Eight was stoned by Marc-Andre Flurey.

The fireworks really began in the second period when Matt Bradley delivered a huge hit on Capitals fan favorite Matt Cooke, receiving a charging penalty in the process. The Pens Jordan Staal proceeded to tackle Bradley to the ice as a scrum formed. Ryan Craig would ask Bradley to answer for the hit when the two dropped the gloves at 11:26 but Craig ended up getting the worst of Bradley’s fists. Shouldn’t Cooke be fighting his own battles? I don’t think I have to answer that one.

While on the power play at 16:38 in the frame, Marcus Johansson fed the puck to a waiting Alex Ovechkin. Ovi then unleashed an unreal, laser beam of a one-timer. BOOM! Caps: 1, Pens: 0

And that would be it. Pittsburgh put 14 shots on Washington netminder Michal Neuvirth in the third period but Neuvy remained as solid as a brick wall. Shutout. World Peace. Something funny here. Caps beat Penguins, 1-0.

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Dmitri Orlov taking in his first AHL game in Hershey

Orlov took in his first ever AHL game tonight at Giant Center. (Photo by SHOE’s Kyle M.)

Since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Capitals Dmitri Orlov has emerged as one of the top defensive prospects in Washington’s system, spurred by his solid play across the pond. Last year after Kontinental Hockey League’s Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to qualify for the playoffs, the club decided to send him down to the Novokuznetsk Bears of the MHL, the KHL’s developmental league. After totaling only four goals and three assists in 43 KHL games, Orlov quickly found his game in the junior circuit, leading the Bears to the MHL Finals.

Orlov’s nine goals and 10 assists in the playoffs ranked him third among all skaters. He was awarded several top honors including the Davydov trophy as the MHL Playoff MVP and was also named the best defenseman of the MHL Finals and Semifinals.

Dima — as some fans know him — followed up his successful 2009-10 with two goals and 10 assists for Metallurg in 2010-11. Orlov also won a gold medal at the 2011 World Junior Championships with the U20 Russian National Team, playing on the top defensive pairing. He was named first-team all WJC along with fellow Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Since Metallurg once again failed to make the playoffs this year and finished with the KHL’s worst record, Orlov and the club reached an agreement allowing him to start his professional career in the Capitals organization earlier than expected. On Saturday, he flew to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania before taking in Sunday’s Hershey Bears game against the Charlotte Checkers at Giant Center. Orlov is expected to officially sign with the Bears of the American Hockey League on Monday.

This is not Orlov’s first stint in America. He attended the Capitals 2009 and 2010 Development Camps, winning over Caps fans with his love of cupcakes in the process.

RMNB’s resident translator Igor Kleyner translated the 19 year-old Novokuznetsk native’s final interview with Metallurg before departing for the United States. Check it out below the jump.

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A Solid Sixty Minutes of Hockey: Caps Spear Sabres, 2-1

Ovechkin-Perreault

“Perry, we did it! We actually score on power play!” (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)

After going 1-4 in their last five games — all against Western Conference foes — the Caps headed back to the friendly confines of the east coast on Sunday, hoping to right the ship versus Buffalo. Facing a hungry Sabres team in a nationally televised matchup, Washington was certainly up to the task.

The first period may have been scoreless but it certainly wasn’t uneventful. The Capitals managed 16 shots but Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was fantastic, making big saves throughout the frame. Washington also had four power play chances in the period, including over a minute and a half on the two man advantage. However, the Caps PP continued their struggles, failing to convert as Miller remained strong.

Mathieu Perreault would finally break Miller’s streak in the second stanza. After an odd bounce in the corner, the puck kicked out to the front of the net. Perreault took advantage, putting the Caps up 1-0. However, after Brooks Laich was called for goalie interference, the Sabres would head to the power play. At 8:20 Jason Pominville converted on the man advantage, getting the puck past a screened Semyon Varlamov to knot the score at one.

Midway through the third, former Cap Shaone Morrisonn was whistled for interference, once again putting Washington on the power play. But this time, it actually worked. Alex Ovechkin skated the puck into zone before firing a shot on Miller who made the stop. However, the biscuit went to waiting Perreault. With a little help from Marcus Johansson — whose deflection awarded him the marker — Perreault put the puck in the back of net, giving the Capitals the lead. Buffalo attempted a rally but Varlamov stayed strong. Caps beat Sabres, 2-1.

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The Machinist: February 19, 2011

Important RMNB news of week? Well, that has to be the fact that 64 people reached the site searching for “Alexander Semin Unibrow”. We’re perplexed yet oddly not surprised by this development.

Down on the Hershey front, Kathryn spoke with goaltender Jared DeMichiel who picked up his first career AHL win last Friday. Head over to SHOE and give it a read!

Now, let’s do the Machinist!

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Stephen Weiss

When I posted my thoughts on which second-line centers might be a fit for the Capitals, many of you asked me: “What about Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers?” So I am going to use that as today’s collective Feed the Machine question and see what the numbers say.

The first step is to take a look at what it is going to cost in terms of the salary cap. Since Washington has $6,686,351 in cap space at the deadline, Weiss’s $3.1 million cap hit should not be an issue. Plus, he is under contract through the 2012-13 season so it is important to note that this wouldn’t be a rental.

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The Streak Continues: Sharks Bite Caps, 3-2

joe-pavelski

Photo credit: Tony Avelar

Coming off an insane, 13-goal affair in Orange County late Wednesday night, the Caps headed to Silicon Valley Thursday to take on the Sharks. It’s been nine long days since the Capitals matched up against San Jose in the District and the question was: which team would show up Thursday night? The Capitals that have been anemic offensively as of late and the squad that was bested by S.J. on the 8th? Or would it be the cardiac Caps reminiscent of last season who decided to pop their head up against the Ducks?

Well, it looks like we’re right back where we were before the Anaheim goal-fest.

The first period was rather uneventful. That is for about 19 minutes. After Ben Eager was called for a tripping penalty at 18:40, Washington headed to the power play. But it would be Joe Pavelski of the Sharks who score first on the Caps man-advantage, converting on John Carlson’s turnover with just over a minute left in the frame. Alex Ovechkin, however, would take matters into his own hands. Ovechkin threaded the needle to put the puck past San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi just 22 seconds after Pavelski’s tally, knotting the score at one.

The second period was a somewhat of a snooze-fest. Nether team racked up more than 10 shots in the frame and no penalties were doled out, giving fans little to cheer for. Five minutes into the third period, Ryan Clowe put home Kyle Wellwood’s rebound, giving the Sharks the lead. Dany Heatley would extend San Jose’s advantage midway through the frame when he deflected Danny Boyle’s attempt from the slot. With just under two minutes remaining, Nicklas Backstrom gave Capitals fans some hope when he ripped a wrist-shot over Niemi’s shoulder. However, the rally would stop right there. Sharks beat Caps, 3-2.

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Alex Semin’s Fourth Hat-Trick Leads Caps Past Ducks, 7-6

Alex Semin embraces Scott Hannan after notching his fourth hat trick

Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill

Let there be hats! (Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill)

Let there be hats! (Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill)

[Ed note: This post is by the Carroll County Times' Brandon Oland, Ian's very own flesh and blood. Since he's accustomed to staying up until 4am, we figured he could fill in for us tonight. Take it away, Brandon.]

Doubts were creeping in. Could the Washington Capitals score enough goals to keep up with Anaheim’s freakishly talented top line? Could the Caps steal a pivotal road win against one of the NHL’s top teams? Could the underperforming Alexander Semin regain his finishing touch?

Yes, yes and yes.

Semin scored three goals, including the game-tying and game-winning tallies to lift the Capitals to a thrilling 7-6 victory in one of the most captivating back-and-forth battles in recent team history. That is, unless you are a fan of defense.

Semin notched his fourth hat trick of the season and seventh of his career. He also finished with a tidy plus four, officially breaking out of the longest goal-scoring slump of his career (17 games) in explosive fashion.

The goals came fast and furious in this defense-purely-optional imitation of the NHL All-Star game. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf got the scoring started with a way-too-easy power play tally set up by a brutal interference penalty on Tyler Sloan. Getzlaf’s goal came with 15:50 to go in the first. Alexander Ovechkin responded six minutes later on a breakaway sparked by a tremendous outlet pass by Nicklas Backstrom. Brooks Laich gave the Caps a brief 2-1 lead with 3:53 left in the first frame, capitalizing on a horrible turnover by Teemu Selanne. After Saku Koivu worked past two waving Capitals defenders, Selanne redeemed himself with a nifty redirect just a few minutes after his lazy pass to tie the contest up. Toni Lydman gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead with 30.7 seconds left in the first, thereby ensuring Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t let Semyon Varlamov see the ice in the second.

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Rachel Cohen's Valentine's Day Card for Matt Bradley

RMNB’s own Rachel Cohen created this Valentine for Matt Bradley

In honor of Valentine’s Day and to drown your sorrows after the latest Caps loss, we asked our readers to submit their very own cards addressed to a Capitals player. And oh, boy, did you listen. We’ve included many of your submissions but have narrowed it down to five finalists. From there, you guys will vote to pick the winner, who will receive one of our lovely — no pun intended — t-shirts. Voting will last until Wednesday night at midnight. And FYI, some of these cards may be NSFW. Proceed with caution!

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