Happy Halloween from RMNB and Our Readers

Sheepvechkin

Sheepvechkin! (Illustration by Rachel Cohen)

Today is Halloween, which for me means less than one month until my birthday! Yay! Oh wait — I mean, dressing up, eating candy, and looking like a tool. To celebrate the holiday right, we figured we’d do a Halloween-themed post.

I’ll be honest: when I heard Chris Gordon‘s demand to solicit Caps-themed jack-o-lanterns, I thought we’d get maybe four images and this post would be a total disaster. Three days and 50 emails later, holy lord did you guys come through in a BIG way. (I guess that’s why he contributes to the New York Times, and I don’t.)

We’ve got Caps logos, we’ve got Ovi heads, and we’ve got 10 million Weagle-carved pumpkins. Follow me past the jump to check out the gallery.

Oh yeah. Homeowners, please remember: the more Mr. Big bars you give out to the kids tonight, the more goals Ovechkin will score on Tuesday. So don’t be stingy. And kids, show no restraint in eating your candy when you get home. Sugar is good for you, no matter what your parents say. Eat it all in one night. Dive into those Kit-Kats and Milky Ways like Alex Ovechkin dives into the boards after scoaring. Type II diabetes be damned.

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All photos by Kyle Mace. Click to enlarge.

We heard from reader Matthew W. that Braden Holtby got a new mask this week. Until today, all we had were blurry, long-distance cell phone pictures, but now we’ve got pics from Kyle Mace (of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey On Earth) taken during warm-ups of the Bears/Senators game.

The front of the mask features a bear on a roller coaster (either a reference to Hersheypark or his turbulent offseason) and the Capitals Weagle logo. The back features the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta (Holtby’s home); the Japanese symbol meaning “Constant Improvement,” the words “Carpe Diem”, and the Hershey Bears logo.

Below the jump, check out Kyle’s hi-res images of Braden’s sweet new headgear. And thanks to Holtby for unknowingly being such a great model.

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Canucks beat Caps 7-4, Get Out of America’s Hat ASAP

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward

The Washington Capitals ended their expedition through Western Canadia with a game against the Vancouver Canucks. These being the two most offensively potent teams of the last two seasons, the Saturday night bout had the rapt attention of all of Canada and the five or six D.C.-area fans who didn’t get invited to Halloween parties (e.g. us).

Tomas Vokoun left the net to play the puck, but retreated back just in time for Maxim LaPierre to bank it off his skates and into the net. Alex Ovechkin returned fire with a swat that rolled behind Roberto Loungo’s tuchas. On the power play, Christopher Higgins had all night to shoot, grab a rebound, and shoot again. Alexander Edler zeroed in on the net early into a power play to make it 3-1. Alex Ovechkin fired a laser pew pew pew on the power play. Mike Knuble put enough stank on his penalty shot for it to wobble past the goalie– tie game.. Edler struck again, one-timing from wide open after a pass from one of the Sedin twins. Marcus Johansson seized on a bad Canucks line change to beat Luongo and tie the game.

Then Alex Ovechkin committed interference, and it all went to hell.

Relief goalie Michal Neuvirth bobbled the  puck to give Henrik Sedin for an easy tip-in. Soon after, Chris Higgins skated past a wiped-out Sean Collins to give Canucks a two-goal lead. Maxim LaPierre’s semi-breakaway made it a three-goal lead. Canucks beat Caps 7-4.

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Jonathan Hayward

You know the deal: Doug Johnson. Puck Buddys. Twitter.

The Puck Drop: Well, that was unpleasant, Caps.

That “nervous feeling” we had?  A little too much rest, a little too little regard for the opponent? That, combining with a too many penalties, snapped our garters and our streak. Lookie here, Canada: we tried being nice, and you had to go and dump all over our parade. We obviously need to approach this in a different way.

The Set Up: If you’re anything like us – and frankly, what are the chances of that? – you’ve always had a secret crush on Vancouver. It’s like Portland, but with less smug. And more Olympics. So we were seriously pulling for the Canucks to smear Boston’s smelly faces all over the ice last June, which they didn’t. (They did sort of try to riot, however, which was really very cute.) But now it’s different. City-crush be darned; we want the Canucks, and we want to break them, especially after that Edmonton nonsense with the Jonas Brothers Line, and that brick-wall Japanese netminder of theirs, Kabuki something.

And we just might get them. From last year’s highs the Canucks have fallen… well, not to new lows, but certainly somewhere in the mid-level yawns. 4-5-1 is not the start of a championship season. Pucks on net seems to be the biggest problem; in only 10 games so far they’ve been shut out three times. So….

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So About Those Penalties…

NOT PICTURED: Officials Stephane Auger and Dan O’Halloran acknowledge the crowd after being named the first stars of the night. (Photo credit: Andy Devlin)

It was a ridiculous night in sports: Winnipeg beat the Flyers 9-8, P.K. Subban dropped the gloves (and almost kayoes himself), and David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals hit a walk-off homer to force a Game 7 in the World Series.

So when the Capitals were whistled for NINE penalties in two periods of play (four in the first, five in the second), it kinda went with the theme of the evening. One of those penalties, a Troy Brouwer hook, led to Edmonton’s game-winning goal. Goodbye, 82-0 season. Haha.

“You have to adjust when you’re out there,” a remarkably calm Bruce Boudreau explained after the game. “You have to know who the ref is. If they’re calling it loose… okay. But if they’re calling every little thing, it’s up to the players to be able to adjust to it. In the rulebook, they’re penalties. Some people call it. Some people don’t. You get to know pretty early if they’re calling it and who’s going to call what.”

Sure, I guess. Well, with the power of photo and video, let’s take a closer look at some of Auger and O’Halloran’s — um, brilliant — work from last night.

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Khabibulin vs. unsatisfactory soup (Photo credit: Andy Devlin)

On their first long road trip of the season, the Washington Capitals encountered some trouble from the Edmonton Oilers. With a perfect record so far, there was a lot on the line in the Canadian wilderness.

Karl Alzner opened it up with a wicked wrister from beyond the circles. Then, on the second 4-on-3 of the first period, Taylor Hall snuck one in from the back door. Jordan Eberle took  a powerplay rebound and turned it into a goal. That’s it. Oilers end the Capitals streak 2-1.

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HEY! We Want Your Caps-Themed Pumpkins!

It’s that time of year. Hockey is back in full-swing, the leaves are falling, and the Columbus Blue Jackets have been eliminated from playoff contention. (Only took nine games this time.)

With Halloween just a few days away, we have a challenge for you. After some nudging from our close friends (nudging, nagging, whatever), we’re asking you to send in photos of your Caps-themed (or just hockey-themed) jack-o-lanterns.

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Some things: they’re easy to hate. Cancer. James Mitchner novels. The Fanny Pack Family and their adorable moppets blocking the wrong side of the Metro escalators. Other things, it’s tougher. Like puppies. Or Canadians.

The Low Down: Seriously, it’s kinda hard to lay the h8 against our drunken, fur-trapping in-laws to the north, no? Geez, they’re just so gosh-darned cute, what with their doughnuts and whale-blubber lamps and huge land mass and commitment to human rights and all? Ah-DOR-able. Eh? But then there’s the Edmonton Oilers (4-2-2, 2nd in Northwest Division).  For them we’ll make an exception.

The Legacy: If you’re under the age of 25, go stand in the corner and Google “Oilers 80’s.” Of course, that was then; the era of Sather and Gretzky and the rest winning the cup five times are long gone. These days the Oilers don’t so much strike fear in the hearts of opponents as they do sadness. So far this season, Edmonton is alone at the bottom of goals per game (1.7) of all NHL teams. And, until Tuesday at least, it looked like they couldn’t win a game in their own division.  Of course, not all is bitter tears for the Oilers.

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Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his ninth goal of the season and nabbed a pretty assist in Traktor’s 3-2 win today over Vladimir Tarasenko and Sibir Novosibirsk.

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Alex Ovechkin Wax Figure Debuts at Madame Tussauds

Alex Ovechkin wax figure

Photo credit: Kris Connor

Alex Ovechkin, sporting 10 stitches on his forehead after taking an errant puck to the face during Caps practice, traveled into DC this afternoon to celebrate his new wax immortality.

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