Game Six: This Means Ward!


Photo credit: John Tlumacki

The Capitals are back in Washington with a chance to keep their season alive. It didn’t have to be that way. With half a minute left to protect their lead in Game Five, Joel Ward high-sticked Carl Hagelin. The ensuing Rangers powerplay cost the Capitals the lead and the win– and what would have been a veritable chokehold on the series.

After he bested the Bruins in the quarterfinal round, Ward was the target of some vile and feckless trash from Boston fans. After his double-minor penalty led to Monday’s loss, that same pernicious evil erupted from Caps fans as well.

Here are Three True Things:

  1. Joel Ward is not at fault for the team’s loss.
  2. This hate is as rare as it is unacceptable.
  3. Joel Ward is a great hockey player and a great addition to the ’11-’12 Washington Capitals.

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Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Google “enigmatic hockey player,” and your search results will likely be dominated by references to a certain Russian winger of the Washington Capitals –- not the team captain and perennial All-Star Alex Ovechkin, but rather his compatriot Alexander Semin.

Nobody ever accused The Other Alex of lacking the talent to play the game at the highest level, but he does have a reputation for running hot and cold. It’s no wonder no one ever knows exactly what to expect from the twenty-eight-year-old Sibiryak — even though he is currently the longest-serving member of the Capitals. It certainly doesn’t help that the last time you read an interview with Alexander Semin was– well… let’s just say a long time ago.

In an attempt to make a small dent in the shroud of mystery surrounding the Capitals winger, RMNB caught up with Semin at Kettler shortly after Capitals practice on Sunday. Sasha talked to us about playing the new defensive system, compared the two All-Star goalies the Caps have faced in this year Stanley Cup playoffs, and shared his thoughts on the upcoming 10th anniversary of being drafted by the Capitals.

And did he ever want to be an astronaut, just like Ilya Bryzgalov? Read on!

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Alex Ovechkin has just about every part of his game pulled apart and scrutinized this season, from his leadership to his ice time to his physicality. His attitude has perhaps been criticized more than anything else– arguably with the least amount of basis, but Ovechkin has developed a reputation for not being a “team-first” player.

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The biggest jinx since the Oil Painting. (Photo credit: Ted Starkey)

On Monday– many, many hours before the Capitals and Rangers took the ice for Game Five– the New York Rangers sent out an email encouraging its fans to buy tickets for the Eastern Conference Finals. But they left out one tiny little detail: they haven’t made the finals yet.

While we understand the need to sell tickets, this overdone graphic — which shows half the team doing a stick salute in Narnia or something, is pompous and ludicrous. The New York Rangers have lost their last two playoff series against the Capitals. You’d think they’d know better.

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