So in a few short hours, RMNB Party 2: Electric Boogaloo is set to begin. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
On Friday afternoon, President Barack Obama welcomed the Chicago Blackhawks to the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship last season. The ‘Hawks presented Mr. Obama with a jersey bearing his name and the number 44. “I think we’ve even got some blood on here,” the president said after he was given the sweater. “It shows it’s authentic. Fantastic.”
After the ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a street hockey clinic with local children on the South Lawn as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to help keep kids fit. Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green was attendance to help Mrs. Obama kick off her event. Below the jump, I chronicle the day in pictures.
SCOAR! (Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin)
After extending their season-high winning streak to six games with Wednesday’s 5-0 blowout win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Capitals tried to keep things in perspective. Following this morning’s pre-game skate, Mike Knuble told the Washington Post’s Katie Carrera that, “I don’t know if we’re hot-hot, but we’re playing better.” Bruce Boudreau even admitted that tonight’s game against the always hard-working Carolina Hurricanes would be “a great test.”
Indeed it would be. Despite chucking 19 shots at Cam Ward through two periods, the Capitals went into the lockerroom facing a 1-0 deficit. Why? Because everyone’s favorite Ruutu brother, Tuomo, converted on a three-on-two odd man break, blasting a slap shot past a screened/interfered-with (you choose) Braden Holtby. The goal, scored with only 36 seconds left in the period, forced the normally chipper Craig Laughlin to lament “goals at the beginning and end of periods are always back-breaking.” Joe Beninati then let us know that the Hurricanes were 21-0-0 when leading after two. Wuh oh.
But then God’s gift to hockey, Alex Ovechkin, decided to do his thing. 47 seconds into the third period, Ovi rifled a twisted wrister past a baffled Ward. Tie game. Then six and a half minutes later, Matt Hendricks showed us again why he was the most valuable player the Capitals picked up over the summer. Jason Arnott, who was sprung on a breakaway after serving a two minute minor for hooking, was initially denied by Ward’s glove. However, a rebound was left in the crease, and Hendricks, who had just killed off Arnott’s hooking penalty, hustled all the way down the ice and chipped home the rebound.
Photo credit: Greg Fiume
I was in attendance the other night when Braden Holtby made NHL history. You see, the Washington Capitals are now the the only team to have three goalies — all 22-years old or younger — to pitch a shutout in the same season. It was electric. The Phone Booth was chanting “Holt-by! Holt-by! Holt-by!” Unfortunately, as the three stars were about to be announced, all I could think was: does he really deserve a star?
Before this gets off on the wrong foot, I realize that a NHL shutout is a great accomplishment. Since the lockout, there have been only 491 of them in regulation, and as I said before, no team has ever seen so many from such young tenders before. I also know Holtby is a talented goalie. After all, we here at RMNB have been referred to as the world’s foremost authority on the young netminder. But let’s put this in a little perspective.
Apparently, Ovi wants you to have a new desktop wallpaper every other day now. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
Entering tonight’s game with the Edmonton Oilers, the big story on everyone’s mind was that Alex Ovechkin’s main running-mate for the past four seasons, Nicklas Backstrom, would be sidelined for the first time in his career due to a fractured left thumb he re-aggravated Monday against the Lightning. As Backstrom’s impressive consecutive games streak ended at 341, the big unknown was if it would have a negative effect on the Capitals suddenly surging offense.
Despite their impressive play of late, the Capitals’ last eight victories have been by only a one goal margin.
Uh, not anymore.
The Sydney Ice Dogs, a semi-professional ice hockey team in the Australian Ice Hockey League, recently released their first commercial to the world for their “Come to an Ice Dogs game, or we’ll ruin yours!” campaign. Above, an unsuspecting golfer learns the hard way that he should probably go over to the Catholic Club’s ice rink in Liverpool, New South Wales ASAP. Sure, this post has absolutely nothing to do with Nick Backstrom’s hand injury, the Capitals, or Russia in general, but since we love gratuitous violence – and it’s a Wednesday – we thought we’d share. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
S/T to @saskystewart, the self-proclaimed “First Lady of Australian Ice Hockey” for posting.
Braden Holtby celebrates after stoning Lecavalier in the shootout. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)
The first sign of trouble came when a wicked shot by Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson struck Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth in the helmet mere seconds into the game.
The helmet snaps broke. His colorful mask fell off and skidded to the boards. Neuvirth doubled over, apparently unable to make the ringing in his head stop. He allowed a soft power play goal and departed after the first period, forcing the Washington Capitals goalie carousel to turn to third-stringer Braden Holtby in a divisional showdown with a hard-hitting playoff atmosphere.
Capitals fans have been trying to figure out which one of Washington’s three baby-faced goalies is the future of the franchise all year long. Holtby tried to stake his claim with a brilliant 21-save effort in a pivotal 2-1 shootout win over the Lightning. The Capitals now lead the Lightning by two points in the Southeast Division.
Here’s Braden Holtby’s submission to the NHL for save of the year. Clearly, he’s learned from the best!
Hendy tells Sasha what we can only assume is “I freakin’ love you” after Semin scores the OTGWG.
Entering tonight’s game with the Florida Panthers, the Capitals only trailed the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning by one standings point for the Southeast Division lead. Karl Alzner told CSN before the game, “It’s nice to have that battle going on at the end of the season. In the end, I think it’s going to help us gear up for that playoff push.” After several years of dominating the division, coasting into the playoffs, and then losing in the early rounds, Alzner’s words are certainly reassuring from a fan’s perspective. Could this division battle down the stretch be everything that the Capitals need?
One thing that still needs to be corrected by the Capitals, however, if they have dreams of playing in June is their poor play in the first period. While they’ve noticeably ramped up their intensity in the game’s opening minutes, they still have had problems scoring the game’s first goal. Tonight, was no different.
Florida got off to an early 1-0 lead after taking advantage of a Dennis Wideman turnover in the offensive zone. After several attempts to get the puck deep and failing, Bill Thomas took the puck from Wideman, passed the puck up to teammate Michal Repik, and the two raced in alone on John Erskine and Michal Neuvirth. Erskine, who failed to take away the pass on the two-on-one, watched helplessly as Repik hit Thomas in stride and deposited the puck into the back of the net. The Capitals however, quickly responded a minute and 13 seconds later. After some powerful forechecking by Alex Ovechkin in the corners, Ovi found Nicklas Backstrom unguarded in the middle of the circles. Backstrom’s one-timer eluded Scott Clemmensen and the game was tied.
Scoring would not pick up until midway through the second period. At 10:02, John Carlson unleashed a slap shot that Clemmensen could not corral. The puck squirted out to Boyd Gordon in the slot, who suavely backhanded home his second goal of the year.
Things would then get dicey in the final minutes of the third period, as the Capitals would not be able to hold onto their one goal lead. After Erskine and Wideman took penalties, David Booth forced overtime by scoring in front of the net on the proceeding five-on-three powerplay. But that’s okay. Alex Semin is a stone cold pimp and ended it in overtime
28 48 seconds in. Caps top Cats, 3-2.
All photos by Kyle M. of Sweetest Hockey On Earth.
In Hershey’s nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals Saturday, Sheldon Souray got in his second fight of the season, choosing Lightning defense prospect Vladimir Mihalik as his combatant. Mihalik, who stands in at a towering 6’8”, was still no match for the 6’4” Souray, a veteran of over 50 NHL fights.
SHOE’s Kyle M. has supplied us with the 100 pictures he took of the fight from the Giant Center’s photo-well. His pictures slow down the thirty-second altercation into a work of art, expertly capturing all the essential elements of a good fight: the grappling, the punches, the emotion, and the knock-out blow. Enjoy!