Warm Tidings to the Honourable Gentleman, Jaromir Jagr

Tuesday night is a big deal. For the first time since February 10, 2008, Jaromir Jagr will play hockey at Verizon Center. Since he is perhaps the most reviled person in Washington Capitals history, there’s no way this doesn’t get ugly.

As a Pittsburgh Penguin, Jaromir Jagr finished eight seasons with more than 90 points, ran flak for Mario Lemieux, and beat the hell out of the Caps in five of six playoff series. Then something even worse happened: he became a Washington Capital.

Fans can have honest disagreement about what the dark days of the Washington Capitals actually were. No wait; they can’t. That first season going a pathetic 8-67-5 doesn’t come close to unbridled misery of the Jaromir Jagr era (October 6, 2001 – January 21, 2004). It began like this: Acquired from a broke Pittsburgh team, Jagr would earn eleven million dollars a  year as a Capital.

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Philadelphia Flyers Pregame: Cheesesteak Losers

Doug Johnson of the Puck Buddys delivers your pregame report. @PuckBuddys.

The Puck Drop: So, class, pencils down. What have we learned this weekend, hmm? Anyone? Anyone?

Well one of the things we’ve learned is that Coach Dale Hunter really isn’t like Coach Bruce Boudreau. As a player or as a coach. Yes, do we remember that? Do we also remember how Dennis Wideman got gipped out of a hat trick by some fusty clock-watchers in Toronto? Recall that? And… and another lesson; do we all remember how confusing it is to watch the Capitals play game to game? That roller-coaster – yeah, remember that? Awake one night, asleep the next? Hmmm?

It’s AH (Anno Hunteramus) 1, and so far we’re breaking even with genuinely mixed performances. A few months back, before “The Troubles“, we spanked the Flyers 5-2 in their own barn, with Hamrlik (remember when he was hot?) knocking in the GWG and Vokoun in the net. And here we are today. It’s cold, but Hamrlik is sorta hot again – or at least not cold cabbage – and Raccoon is once again starting to show a little of his elite-ness.

So, class, this Tuesday, which Capitals team do you think will show up? Hmm? Bueller?

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Video: John Carlson on NHL Live, Plus Our DALE Sign

After registering seven points in three games for the Capitals, John Carlson was named the the NHL’s third star of the week. On Monday afternoon, Captain America celebrated by suffering through six minutes of questions from EJ Hradek and Deb Placey.

Amongst the most interesting topics they discussed, Carlson revealed his initial disappointment about not being drafted by New Jersey, his excitement to have Dale Hunter as his coach again, and his feelings — two years removed — on his gold-medal winning OTGWG in the 2010 World Junior Championships.

But really, we’re just posting this because our DALE sign is at 4:24.

Brooks Laich

Early Monday morning , DC101′s Elliot in the Morning interviewed Brooks Laich. Before practice, Laich talked extensively about Dale Hunter, the system he’s bringing to Washington, the firing of Bruce Boudreau, and the awkwardness surrounding Dennis Wideman’s almost-hat trick.

Below the jump, I’ve transcribed a good chunk of the two’s talk.

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Kuznetsov is stopped on a breakaway at 1:55. His two shootout goals can be seen at 3:45.

Taking a tenuous 2-0 lead into the third period, Traktor Cheylabinsk unraveled in the final minutes against host Avangard Omsk on Sunday. First, 4:31 into the final frame, the KHL’s leading goal-scorer, Roman Cervenka, scored on a cross-crease pass to bring Avangard within one. Then ten minutes later, Omsk’s Yegor Averin scored on a broken play in front of Traktor’s net to force overtime.

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VIDEO: Washington Capitals Holiday Light Show at Verizon Center

Clyde is among the best and most prolific photographers when it comes to the Caps. Here’s video of the Capitals introduction, shot by Clyde before the Maple Leafs game, featuring a healthy dose of Mannheim Steamroller Trans-Siberian Orchestra*.

[Clydeorama.com]

* really?

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Scoring Change Steals Dennis Wideman’s Hat Trick

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

When we went to bed on Friday, Dennis Wideman was the possessor of a hat trick. His three-goal night versus Toronto was the first by a defenseman for the Caps in a decade, the first overall by the Caps this season, and the first of Dennis’ career. It was also the first 3 PPG game among defensemen in the NHL since 2006.

No more.

This morning, the NHL updated the game’s scoring (via WaPo’s Katie Carrera), giving that final power play goal to Brooks Laich for his 7th on the season. Nick Backstrom loses his secondary assist, knocking him down to 31 points.

Wideman still takes from the night four power play points (2G, 2A) and the first multi-goal game of his career, but all those hats you threw on the ice are now a fraud. And he’s still minus-1 on the night. Dennis admitted as much on Friday night, but you should still blame it all on stupid old Brooksy.

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Video: David Steckel on How Not to Win a [bleeping] Game

Capitals crowd react to goal

The crowd reacts to Dennis Wideman’s first PPG of the night. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Washington Capitals converted four of six power play opportunities on Friday night to best the Toronto Maple Leafs. The win pushes the Caps solidly into 8th place in the east and bounces their overall PP% up to 18.1%, good for 12th in the league. There’s a lot to be happy about, but Former-Cap/Current-Leaf David Steckel isn’t feeling warm and fuzzy about any of it.

In his post-game interview, Steckel scoured his team’s performance on the penalty kill with some salty language: “Any time you give up four power play goals, you’re not going to win a [expletive] game.”

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Caps beat Leafs 4-2, Dennis Wideman Gets a Hat Trick!

Bruce Bennett

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Dale Hunter recorded the first two wins of his NHL career against Canadian teams. After tonight’s date between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs, you can make it three.

Dennis Wideman caught Mike Knuble’s pass and converted the PP. Dennis Wideman threaded the needle and converted the PP. (Phil Kessel scored.) Dennis Wideman fed Nick Backstrom, who converted the PP. (From the blue line, Cody Franson slipped one past a screened Vokoun.) Dennis Wideman converted the PP. Caps beat Leafs 4-2.

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Kuznetsov smiles during the weekend of his wedding. (Photo credit: Chelyabinsk.ru)

If you’re a loyal reader of RMNB, you know a lot about Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov. You know he’s won a gold medal at last year’s WJC, he currently leads the KHL in game-winning goals, and he had one of the best years ever recorded last season as an 18-year-old in Russia. You’ve seen the movie he starred in when he was 12, Hockey Nomad Goes To Russia, and you giggled when you saw pictures from his wedding this past summer at Traktor Arena.

In part two of our monster translation of Soviet Sport’s feature story on Kuzya, Pavel Lysenkov asks some more personal questions. [Read part one of the interview.] We find out why Kuznetsov picked number 92, what Alex Ovechkin gave him as a wedding present, and what he was like as a child in school. Evgeny also makes many more references to Washington and how he’s preparing to uproot his life at some point and come to North America.

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