Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin returned to DC today following a four-day excursion to Moscow to mourn the passing of his uncle. In an effort to remain sharp ahead of tomorrow’s season opener, he briefly took to the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex tonight and worked on his shot and stick-handling.

Poor guy. Someone please give him a hug.

Below the jump, check out a few more photos via the Capitals’ James Heuser.

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[Editor's note: We are proud to welcome writers Craig Brownstein and Doug Johnson to the Russian Machine! You might already know Craig and Doug from their gay-focused hockey blog, Puck Buddys. You are hereby required to follow them on Twitter: @PuckBuddys. Puck Buddys is increasing its scope from Caps-centric coverage to the whole NHL, so you'll see C+D here a lot, especially for game previews. Please give them a very warm welcome and let us know if they break anything expensive.]

And now, a new season kicks off with an ominous sign of the Hockpocalypse – teh gays are now writing about the Caps for RMNB: a risky collaboration between the established Russian royalty (or oligarchy), and the gauche, nouveau riche upstarts.  The cheeky bastards of the hockey world will occasionally share insightful analysis, anatomy lessons, and keen fashion sense with a wider cross-section of the Caps fanbase. The questions on everyone’s lips?  1) Who’s going to embarrass the other first?  Answer: We’re demonstrating that right now. 2) How did RMNB end up with us? Answer: Dave Nichols of District Sports Page already grabbed all the talented free agents.

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Kanooblian, a Work of Art Inspired by Mike Knuble

Mark Burrier is an artist (and my friend and colleague) from Frederick, Maryland. One of his many projects is a website called Rare Words, where users submit words that become the starting point for drawings. To ring in the new season, I submitted a word to the blog. It’s a word I use a lot: kanooblian. It means As of or pertaining to Mike Knuble’s net-crashing ways.

Here’s a tiny version of the drawing:

"Kanooblian" by Mark Burrier

You’re gonna have to follow me past the jump to see the whole thing. You’ll be glad you did.

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Winter is Coming in One Day

Alex Ovechkin

Photo credit: Toni L. Sandys of the Washington Post

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.

Seeing a Steve Konowalchuk hat trick live with my dad and brother made me fall in love with hockey. Joe Juneau’s jamshot past Dominik Hasek made me wildly jump up and down as a teenager. But Alex Ovechkin’s first career playoff tally is my all-time favorite NHL goal.

Here’s why.

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