Winter is Coming in 8 Days

Eric Fehr

Editor’s note: To get you properly revved up for the season, each member of the RMNB crew will take a longing look back at some of our favorite goals from days gone by. You can call it nostalgia or cheap summer content, but it’s really a reminder: WINTER IS COMING.

I wasn’t always a huge hockey fan. My family were Hartford Whalers season-ticket holders, and they took me to an event down at the old Civic Center when I was 4. I would have gone skating but the goal siren frightened me away. I refused to skate and spent the rest of the night sitting on the bench with my hands on my ears. When I finally saw a game at age 12, I was an instant convert.

So: January 1st, 2011. The Winter Classic. Maybe the biggest game of the regular season and my first away from Home Sweet Verizon Center and in Pittsburgh, home of our nemeses. I wanted the win badly.

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Caps Prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov

At 2:20, Evgeny Kuznetsov's one-timer puts Traktor ahead of Torpedo for good.

Despite being sidelined for the most of the summer recovering from shoulder surgery, Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has had a great start to the KHL regular season. He’s tallied three goals on the year, most recently the game-winner in Traktor’s 5-2 victory over Torpedo, and has also scored two shootout goals which both pushed the White Bears to victory.

Traktor Head Coach Valery Belousov has brought Kuznetsov along slowly in the first couple of games, burying him on the third line and also limiting his minutes. That has not stopped the 19-year-old forward from being one of the most productive players on the team. He ranks second on the team overall in both goals and shots (25).

Sport-Express’s Alexey Shvetsov caught up with Kuzya after Wednesday’s game and the two discussed Traktor’s “disappointing” start to the regular season, the Lokomotiv tragedy, and Evgeny’s timetable on playing in Washington. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation below the jump.

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Marcus Johansson Washington Capitals

Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz

Head coach Bruce Boudreau is not shying away from having Marcus Johansson center Alex Ovechkin on the top line, so it’s time to put the sophomore Swede under the microscope. Specifically, what can fans expect him to produce in his second season?

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Book Review: Hockey Prospectus 2011-12

Hockey Prospectus 2011-12

Before Moneyball (the book, not the movie), there was Bill James.

For those of you who may not know, James is the grandfather of Sabermetrics (baseball #fancystats) and is currently a senior advisor on baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.

Part of my personal #fancystats book collection

He began writing The Bill James Baseball Abstract in 1977 which was “the first of its kind to scientifically analyze and study baseball, often through the use of statistical data, in an attempt to determine why teams win and lose.”

Luckily, Hockey Prospectus is there to carry the torch into the Moneypuck era.

Since I got their inaugural copy last year I have been waiting for Hockey Prospectus to make their 2011-12 annual available. Finally, I got to download it last week.

For those not familiar, the book is, for the most part, an in-depth analysis of each NHL team. It certainly has a #fancystats element to it, so those who love stats will enjoy it. But make no mistake: this is for anyone interested increasing their knowledge of hockey, sounding smarter on Twitter or just as a guideline for expectations for the 2011-12 season.

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Fancystats Crash the ESPN Mock Draft

Anze Kopitar

Anze Kopitar celebrates a goal last year against the Blackhawks. (Photo credit: Harry How)

Editor’s note: You can win a 1-year subscription to ESPN Insider and a $25 gift certificate to Front Page VA by guessing Neil’s first two draft picks tonight. Check out the details on our Facebook page.

As part of ESPN.com’s NHL family, I was invited to participate in their fantasy hockey draft this past Tuesday. Just me and guys like Craig Custance, John Buccigross, and Scott Cullen.

No pressure.

Victoria Matiash has already given a bird’s eye view of the draft, but I thought I would run through my thought process on various picks and give you some ideas for your fantasy draft. Plus, you can see how I do for the season because we are making the results public.

Here were the ground rules for the draft:

Participants included, in original order, Craig Custance, Tristan Cockcroft, Tim Kavanagh, John Buccigross, Pierre Becquey, Michael Hume, Victoria Matiash, Neil Greenberg, Sean Allen and Scott Cullen. Categories include goals, assists, power-play points, plus/minus, penalty minutes, shots on goal and average time on ice for skaters and wins, save percentage and goals-against average for goaltenders. Slots to fill include nine forwards, five defensemen, one “utility” skater, two goaltenders and a five-man bench.

My philosophy was simple: grab young, healthy, talented players with upside. Let others worry if Patrick Kane would be healthy or if Sergei Kostitsyn can once again score 20 goals on less than 100 shots.

I had the eight pick. With my editor Mike Hume drafting before me (he knows which players I fancy) and Cullen having back-to-back picks behind me I knew I had to make strategic decisions.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

In addition to the Kids Press Conference hosted by Karl Alzner and John Carlson, I also attended the “I Made It To The NHL” panel at the Caps Convention on Saturday.

Dennis Wideman and Mathieu Perreault sat down for an hour and answered questions about what it was like to finally see their dreams of playing in the NHL come true. There were a lot of great moments. One such example was when Perry was told by a fan at the podium that there are group of ravenous Caps supporters out there that refer to him as “Perreaultcho-Cinco,” a nickname inspired by Patriots’ Wide Receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson. Perreault, confused and honored all at the same time, responded with a huge grin and a shrug: “I don’t really follow football that much.” Sigh.

Dennis Wideman also shared many interesting stories from his career including the one day he roomed with Brooks Laich. Below the jump, check out some highlights from the panel courtesy of my flip cam.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

On Saturday, the Washington Capitals hosted their third annual Capitals Convention. A sold-out crowd of over 6,000 fans descended on the spacious confines of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to get autographs, pose for photos, and have questions answered by their favorite players.

Ted Leonsis, a mastermind behind the yearly event, was ecstatic for the turn-out. “That we’re able to sell out everything we touch really shows how wonderful the fan support is and my goal is to build a team as good as our fan base,” he said.

And really. What’s not to love? There were so many great moments. A few of our favorites: the Knuble’s Knights got knighted by GM George McPhee, Brooks Laich’s mom Jane participated in “The Support it Takes to Make it to the NHL” panel, and Braden Holtby and Jay Beagle played floor hockey with some kids. And oh yeah, this too.

“Hockey players are so approachable,” Bruce Boudreau said. “They could be walking amongst [the crowd] and they’ll sit down and talk to you. I think it means a lot to [the fans] that they are so human.”

Below are my pictures of from the day including Alex Ovechkin giving out some free hugs, Mike Green signing a baby, and a lot of smiling players — and when I mean a lot, I’m talking some sort of world record.

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Karl Alzner and John Carlson

Photo credit: Kyle M.

After two straight years of being unable to attend, I finally had a chance to experience the Capitals Convention on Saturday. And boy, did I have a good time. Last year, one of the most memorable parts of the event was the Kids Press Conference. Alex Ovechkin, Matt Bradley, and Eric Fehr were grilled by precocious young Caps fans and the players gave some fantastic answers. They even sung Happy Birthday to a little girl in both English and Russian.

So naturally I decided to check out the Kids Conference myself this year, featuring brothers-from-another-mother Karl Alzner and John Carlson. The players answered questions like “What player do you have the most pleasure hitting?” “How do you celebrate a win?” and ‘What’s your favorite animal?”

Below, check out my somewhat not terrible footage of the event from my trusty ol’ Flip Cam.

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Winter is Coming in 15 Days

Photo credit: Michael Connor/The Washington Times

Photo credit: Michael Connor/The Washington Times

Editor’s note: To get you properly revved up for the season, each member of the RMNB crew will take a longing look back at some of our favorite goals from days gone by. You can call it nostalgia or cheap summer content, but it’s really a reminder: WINTER IS COMING.

The date was April 24th, 2009. The Washington Capitals had taken up their old tradition of digging a hole for themselves. The count was three-to-one, and the New York Rangers were looking to wrap this series up on the road.

So here’s the scene: John Tortorella is still dry, Sean Avery is wearing some D&G three-piece instead of his hockey sweater, and the Rags are on the power play. Your boy Boyd Gordon gets the puck behind Varly and sends it around the boards. It takes a weird bounce to get past the blue line– with Matt Bradley in close pursuit…

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Who Should Nicklas Backstrom Play With?

Nick Backstrom

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, who spent much of the past two seasons on a line together, may have broken up.

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