The End of the Road

Photo credit: Paul Bereswill

The Washington Capitals played their season on the edge of a knife. After losing Bruce Boudreau and picking up Dale Hunter in November, the Caps adopted a style of play that yielded smaller margins of victory, but more rarely imploded spectacularly.

Tonight the Capitals lost their final coin toss.

The New York Rangers, like the Bruins before them, played a sturdy and physical series. Girardi kept Ovechkin from scoring the 234235 goals he might have otherwise. Henrik Lundqvist (who deserves the Vezina) performed like the marquee player he is. Brad Richards earned his ludicrous paycheck.

There is no monumental failing to pin this on. No personality flaw or injury or malign external force can take the blame. The Caps played the best hockey they could muster and came out on the losers in the end. There should be no shame in that. “Choking dogs” can lie down.


What we can observe, and what we can quantify, is that Hunter Hockey is a meeker brand that what we are used to here in DC. Gone are the highs and lows of the Boudreau era, and in their place is the tedium of stability, the banality of tension. While it is tight and prudent, Hunter’s style is unadventurous to a fault. It is a poor match for the personnel this team has on payroll. As JP observed, Hunter yielded results like a coin flip.

Hunter hockey does not soar.

But that’s the extent of my pessimism. We have so much to be in love with right now; I’m practically puking rainbows through my tears.

The right honorable gentleman Braden Holtby is a firebrand. The hockey cognescenti said he’d be this team’s big weakness. They couldn’t have been more wrong. If you asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have called Braden Holtby trade bait. Now I’m calling him the core of the Washington Capitals. He’s the young gun. Keep him.

Mike Green, Jay Beagle, and Nick Backstrom each recovered from catastrophic injuries and distinguished themselves in the postseason.

Alex Ovechkin is a superstar. Whatever gripes we have with his tactical choices, they will never eclipse our awe. We freaking named the site after the guy.

Alex Semin? It’d be nice if he could produce after the quarterfinal round, but he’s coming back next year. You know it and I know it and naughty little Sasha knows it too.

We have seen the last of some players in Caps uniforms. Mike Knuble jumps to mind. That breaks my heart.

Okay, that’s enough for now.

It’s been a long season. It’s been a hard season. But above all else: it’s been weird.

We at RMNB traffic in weird. Thank you for following along with us as we documented the smorgasbord of WTFery that was this season. It’s been our most successful year to date, and we’ve got even bigger things planned for the future.

Don’t be a stranger this summer. There are Very Big Things coming.

Finally, please say hello in the comments. We owe you so very much for giving us someone to talk to and now we’re bonded together– you and me. It’s only right that we know each other’s names. We’re family now, sticking together til the end of the… well you know.

And oh yeah. Crash the goddamn net.

  • Josh B

    Thank you, RMNB. You’ve kept me entertained and tied to the Caps after having to move from DC to Alaska. I’ll be keeping the faith and visiting your site again soon.

  • parr72

    love this site! thanks for the ride……..

  • Thank for an awesome season of poignant post-game commentary (and all the other cool stuff in-between). Can’t wait to see what you have in store for next season. Going to go cry in the corner for a few days…

  • Qwin

    well it was more honorable than before but it still stings the same. Another year gone and thanks so much for being awesome and giving awesome coverage on this blog. Have a great summer

  • JessHughes

    Loved the recap, RMNB. You nailed as always. Only high point of this game was that earlier today, my 4.5 year old son predicted the Roman Hamrlik goal. He’ll smile though his tears tomorrow. Keep up the great work and I’ll still be reading you guys daily. PS Wearing my “SCOAR MOAR GOALS” shirt as I write this.

  • Jovana

    Thanks RMNB… It was a fun, bumpy ride. Looking forward to some more great things from you guys

  • Abhi

    I just don’t know what to do guys.

  • RexZero

    I am more in love with the caps then I have been in a long long time. Next year is going to be amazing!

    Also, I love Hunter Hockey and think it’ll pay off big time next year if we stick to it.

  • Cara S.

    You are the best hockey site ever. I seriously love you guys.

  • Great job all year long, guys. I just wish I could’ve seen what a RMNB Finals would have looked like.

  • Michele

    We’re staying, the Caps will roar back next year. Love your stories. As a hockey newbie this is where I learn stuff. So THANK YOU.

  • ChaseBH

    Crushed. Seeya later

  • Thanks to everybody who read and thanks for everybody who worked with me. RMNB rocks. Stay tuned for the draft, free agency, etc. That is gonna be great, I promise. New season will have new hopes. We’ll see how the team responds.

  • Heartbroken…but I love this site more than you’ll ever know. It’s the first site in the morning and the last at night (beating out FB and Perez). Be seein ya!

  • Thank you for being the best blog on the planet. You have kept me optimistic during the worst of times and shared my love for this team like no other. You’ve made me laugh, aw, and very smart about this team and it’s wonderful core of players. It’s only right that we honor this magnificent core of bloggers now. Thanks for everything and I can’t wait until next season! Go Caps! Crash the net!

  • I disagree with one point and only one. I don’t think they played the best hockey they could tonight. If they had played the whole game the way they played the better half of the second period, I am thoroughly convinced they would have won. Still, next year with Holtby in net and, yes, Hunter behind the bench, I think we’ll take it all.

  • pete

    Thanks for keeping me centered during the year – while disappointed in the result, can’t fault the effort – I don’t mind coin flippin’ and am more satisfied with that style than going out guns a blazing from every direction. Keep up the great work

  • o well

    Played like champs….most of the caps….and they lost like champs. So guys, starting getting better over the summer and go 7-0 one more time. Just without the injuries this time.

  • KSCapsfan

    It’s been a year. i’m not sure i’m 100% behind Hunter’s methods but i do think the Caps have grown as a team under his guidance. i’ve really enjoyed reading RMNB and gained a lot of insight and had more than a few laughs in the process. Thanks so much!

  • brian!

    Thanks for everything RMNB. I think I’ll grab a beer and try to relax.

  • Bless you! Y’all make Caps hockey even better <3

  • craxworth

    Another great season of posts, you guys. Thanks.

  • Kenny Spent

    Great series guys. I think everyone knew this Game 7 would be tight, if Rangers had lost I felt comforted it would have been to a team that deserved it. 7th seed that played like a top seed, hats off to the effort.

  • As the lights dim on yet another disappointing season, the Washington Capitals continue their city’s tradition of post-season futility.
    Having said that, after the nightmare that was the regular season, these playoffs were great. Played with heart and determination. Played like the Stanley Cup contenders that previous, higher seeded incarnations were supposed to play like. 14 games that I’ll always be proud of. All our boys should go out with their heads held up high. We knocked out the defending champions. We took the 1 seed NY Rangers 7 games. We did this all with a previously unknown rookie goalie.
    On to next season.

  • Manda

    Love the Caps. Love you guys. We need a party.

  • Well… it hurts less than last year, but it isn’t any easier. Looking forward to what they bring to the table next year. We all know its gonna be a good one.

  • Shell

    What she said.

  • Been reading for a while now and I look forward to every article you guys put up. I’ve learned a lot and feel closer to the team because of your posts. I can’t wait for more in the intervening months. Tonight was a heartbreak, but considering how far the Caps came in the last couple months, I’m damn proud of these guys, and I’m excited for next season. Go Caps!

  • LizE

    I love this site and I love all of you. Can’t wait for next season!

  • Lee Plave

    Great work all year long – thanks for what you do, with such passion for the game and the team.

  • JB

    Thanks for everything RMNB.

  • SaraAnn

    Love you guys! You make Caps seasons even better. Thanks for the calming manatee, I needed it. 🙁

  • You guys made the entire season amusing. Love you guys, love the Russians on our team, and most importantly I love the motherfucking Capitals. Good looking out guys.

  • missmargaret

    Thanks for your incredibly well written and entertaining hockey articles all year, keep it up, I’ll keep on reading every day all season long, and if this same team keeps showing up, I think next year– finally!– might be different.

  • terranet360

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

  • Yesterday i change my license plate for GR8 NHL. I am the Caps fan in NYC. I am proud.

  • It’s tough to feel like you’re part of the Caps fan community when you were born and raised in San Diego and have lived in California for 35 out of 37 years. RMNB is my lifeline. So glad I found you guys this year. What a fun group. I plan to fly out for a party next year.

    My heart yearns for another shot with this team in tact next year. But when does that ever happen. I will just clutch my pillow and hum that Boyz II Men song tonight…”it’s so haaaaard…to say….gooodbyyyye” as i stare out a window and tears roll down my face. Not really. maybe i’ll get sushi.

    Anyway, I love you – the editors and followers of RMNB. I love this team. I will believe in them for life. And in spite of today’s result, I’m still getting my Caps In 7 vanity plates. Now I just need a red car to put them on. <3

  • Ovi, good luck in Sweden.

  • Thank you so much for making laugh, understanding and sharing the complex feelings and emotions I have for the Washington Capitals. I love you guys. Keep making awesome t-shirts. ….”Somebody left the gate oooooOOOpennnn!”

  • Couldn’t be prouder of this team. They played their hearts out. Can’t wait till October!!

  • Jesi

    I’m hurt by our loss tonight, but I have so much hope for next season. We’ve grown so much this season. I found out about RMNB halfway into the playoffs, and I’m glad I did. It became part of my morning ritual before work to check the site and read any new posts. I look forward to want funzies will come from this summer and next season. 🙂

    In Holtby we trust.
    -Jesi W. Frederick, MD

  • Laura

    Thank you so much for saying what all of us are feeling day in and day out. Love you!

  • Akay15

    I haven’t been a hockey fan for a long time but the Caps made me fall in love with the sport. I obviously don’t know any of these guys on a personal level but they all just seem like fun, good guys who love playing hockey. None of them seem like huge douches with big egos. Tonight’s loss was definitely upsetting but it wasn’t a colossal suckerpunch like other losses because I know the Caps will bounce back and bring us more amazing hockey. Super proud to be a Caps fan and I CAN’T wait until the 2012-2013 season begins. GO CAPS!!

  • oh man. i said that Boyz II men thing before I even saw that you posted that video. LOL

  • Thanks, Rex. We’ll see what Hunter’s plans are soon, I think.

  • I’ll still bailamos with you guys any day. Big steps taken this year. They’ll make some tweaks and win the whole damn thing next year.

  • We love you too, Cara. It’s kind of creepy how much.

  • Thank you, real person.

  • Amen. FREDERICK BABY! I’m off to the bars in 10 minutes

  • Thanks, Priscilla, for repping us in California. We always appreciate hearing from you.

  • Thanks, Sarah. I’m hoping to have a ton of coverage this summer to keep you tided over.

  • Drug habits, most likely.

  • thank YOU


  • You think he’s going? I hope he doesn’t

  • Party. Will do.

  • That is an honor. Thanks

  • It’ll be alright, Abhi. Tomorrow’s another day, and there’s a new season coming before you know it.

  • Haha! Awesome kid!

  • alaska booo

  • LionGirl92

    I don’t want it to end. You hang up, RMNB…

  • I miss you guys already. Thanks for the great reads this season! You guys are the best! Until next time.
    Josh Kosco

  • Mike

    I became addicted to you guys this year and can relate to all of your stories, humor, and nerve-racking moments you express. You are all talented and entertaining writers. All of my favorite shirts are from you guys. Ya’ll are some true fans. Sorry to see it end but it produced some great memories. Unfortunately I will be in a 5 month depression now.

  • csp

    Thank you for your wonderful blog. Let’s go Caps!!!

  • Thanks for all the support and love, you guys. You’re what make all the sleepless nights and pressure-packed lunches full of transcribing radio interviews worth it. We promise we’ll make the summer go as quick as possible.

  • Mike

    GO O’S

  • Jesi W.

    Woot! I had just gotten my Holtbeast T-shirt in the mail today (gift from my boyfriend cause he’s awesome like that haha!). Proudly wearing it all day. 🙂 Much love to the ENTIRE RMNB crew. I can’t tell you how many bad days you have turned around for me with your witty humor and delightful insults <3 Rock the red and crash the net baby!!

  • Thanks for the memories…

    My mom got me into this blog at the end of last season, and it’s been my love ever since. I think my boyfriend is jealous of this website.

    I promise as soon as I have the money I’ll buy an awesome Russian Machine shirt. (I do apologize for not buying one sooner but, I’m a broke college student and college is expensive.)

    This is just like writing in your best friend’s yearbook back in high school. I miss you all already.

  • bailamos?

    You guys are the best, I love you.
    Thanks for putting up with my bailamos spamming and for being the funnest and awesomest Caps blog anywhere.
    I’ve only been a Caps (heck, a hockey fan) for one and a half years, but in that space of time, I’ve become addicted to the sport and the awesome fans.
    Next season, I’ll be bailamos-ing from China (probably). Who cares about the time difference anyway? 🙂

  • Gonna miss you guys ;( I’ll be checking in here for offseason updates. We should meet at Greene Turtle in Fredrock for some beer some time. :((( and also :(((((((((((((((( not enough frowns.

  • Al h

    Time to shave the beard can’t wait till October

  • Derek

    Hope Semin’s back – he may not have earned a lot of points this series (but then again, neither did Ovi), but he covered both ends of the ice and (wait for it…) actually controlled play during his shifts. It’d be nice if he could score a billion goals and be a team player, but he’s had 6 months to switch to Hunter’s style. I was as frustrated as anyone about him last summer, but now I say give the kid time. The progress is there.

    Thanks for another great year. Your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

  • Best hockey read…period. I love you guys. Kudos on using “Howl” in this article. Great album…perfect for what I’m feeling right now. <3 CAPS!!! Rock the Red. Always.

  • Thanks for making Capitals Hockey awesome! As a Wisconsinite following the Caps, you were the number one blog for me to keep up to date. Thanks for this year and I can’t wait for next year!

  • LionGirl92

    W.H. Auden. Oh so melancholy and tragic.

  • Great site guys. Entertaining to say the least.

  • LionGirl92


  • Sean M.

    thanks, rmnb. you’re the best. i’ll keep reading your stuff next season and every season after that. crash the net.

  • Roxy

    DAMMIT PETER I had JUST stopped crying when I read this post AND NOW I AM AGAIN. I’m sure you’ve heard it from all of us but we love you guys a lot and you are our favorite blog. and by us I’m speaking out of place for Kate, Lexi and Melissa also. But I’m sure they agree with me. Looking forward to hanging with you guys again, it was such a good time.

  • Dark Stranger

    If Semin goes, I admit I’ll be sad. I do wonder what’s happened to his ability to score goals. Could the groin issues he had last year have something to do with it?

  • Vince C.

    thanks for being awesome Russian Machine, You guys Rock!!

  • Jeebus

    Thanks for getting me through the tough times and the really good times. 2012-13 will deffinatly be one to pay attention to. Can’t wait!

  • I kept this years superstition to myself. That said….This season ended with you guys with me. That tee shirt smells bad, and really needs the washing.

  • slaw_88

    My sister and I are new to the Caps world. We live in British Columbia, Canada and through some inexplicable means fell in love with the team last year. Maybe it’s the new underdog thing, maybe it’s the superstar that is Ovechkin, who knows, it’s probably a combination of many things. Anyway we’ve spent the year getting harassed for our Caps shirts by perfect strangers at the gym and on the streets (and soon to be RMNB gear sadly a few days too late) but it was worth it to follow the team through this crazy year. Finally, I just want to say that I’m glad that there will be RMNB content throughout the summer because your site is fricking awesome. I’ve spent way too much time reading the funny moments of this team over the past few years. Thanks for keeping us up to date on all the weird.

  • Jonny

    You asked for comments, so I’ll add mine. You have a great blog here. Really love how you get the not so heard about things. It was indeed a coin flip. And like I said after gm 6 if they play like the did in gm 6 they will win gm 7… too bad they didn’t. Hunter def needs to come back. He is the reason we had success in the playoffs… He may not need or want us. but we need him! GO CAPS!!!

  • sentientcheese

    Thanks guys, for everything

  • So overwhelmed with emotions…….. Totally heartbroken about the loss, yet so very proud of how well our boys played! It’s been a rollercoaster of a season, and I’m so glad you guys were here to help make some sort of sense out of it.

    Looking forward to next season already! (Go YOTES)

  • noipster

    Hello from Australia!
    been reading you guys for a couple of years 😀

  • I’m a little/very drunk. but our team made us damn well proud in the playoffs. I feel like being an underdog has taught us a lot. high hopes for next season/the future. you guys are the Pissed I haven’t made it to a party yet, but that’ll change i hope. I’ll be reppin’ you guys from carnegie mellon next season!

  • Josh B

    Trust me…it wasn’t a choice.

  • Seems like every year in late April/early may this sport makes me sad, but this time there’s a larger helping of Pride on the side.

    As for the site, I love you guys. You are the best sports blog around, and I can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned.

  • Al
  • EI

    Enrique sends you a basket of muffins

  • Moira Donohue

    My son introduced me to hockey with Caps tickets for Mother’s Day last year. I fell in love. Thank goodness he also introduced me to RMNB because where else, on Mother’s Day a year later, could I go to find such solace (and a picture of a manatee!!!) after last night’s heartbreak. I love hockey. I love the Caps. And I love RMNB.

  • Camillia

    I love this blog, and I hope you guys do the Pick ’em contest again next season. Thanks for all your hard work. Now I’m gonna go buy one of the funniest caps-related thing I’ve seen, a Sasha Care Bear shirt!

  • JeanneB

    Thanks, RMNB. This site really adds to the experience of being a Caps fan. Which, once again, means having a more open social calendar in late May. Sigh.

  • Derek

    It’s not really a lack of ability – it’s a shift in focus. We’ve seen it with Ovi and his hits lately. If you’re playing defense, you have less time on your shift to score goals. If Hunter’s going to continue, both Alexes need to find a balance between goal-scoring and all-around play. I have faith that they can.

  • Thanks for all you during the season….you’re simply the best! My countdown to next season started when the clock hit zero! My new word, btw, WTFery! Thanks for that 🙂 You guys rock!

  • Thank you for all the hard work and entertainment. You’re the best hockey site ever!

  • Taz

    You guys are great, so glad you’re here, thanks for your great (entertaining AND insightful) coverage from Caps to…everything I didn’t know I was missing! You’re my first go-to Caps spot of the day. Wandering listlessly around the house this morning, wondering how to fill this void that has appeared, forgotten how painful this is, BUT am very proud of our guys, I’m filled with great hope for next season. Reading this blog and the other comments is helping me get through this morning, at least so thanks to and everyone who posts here…. Looking forward to your on-going coverage of what is looking to be a very interesting hockey summer.

  • yvonne s

    love y’all (and go NATS quit w/ the O’s stuff already, we all admit we rooted for them too but this is DC baby!) 😉 and, is it october yet?

  • @CapsFans1921

    The best Caps blog by far! Fun, entertaining and always witty.

    Last night stings, and it will for a while, but if anyone who calls them self a “fan” is disappointed by this run the Caps made, feel free to show yourself to the door. We had the highest of highs, and lowest of lows. In January this team was destined not to make the post season, and look at what they accomplished. Silenced a lot of critics, and gave us some great memories.

    GMGM is a great hockey mind, DH32 is a great coach, these two together will do what is right, and good for the organization. Next year will be fun to watch. Until then, rest up Caps Nation. 2012-2013 season is right around the corner. . .


    Go Caps!

  • Rhino40

    There is no monumental failing to pin this on. No personality flaw or
    injury or malign external force can take the blame. The Caps played the
    best hockey they could muster and came out on the losers in the end.
    There should be no shame in that. “Choking dogs” can lie down.

    Well said, Peter.

    I think “Looking for answers” was never a more apt phrase than this time around. “Porous defense”? NOPE. “Mentally and physically soft”? uh-uh. “Halak’d” Not exactly. “Hot Goaltender”? Ours was just as hot. “Bad penalty killing”? Um, no.

    What’s left? Only the metaphysical: Why do the Hockey Gods hate us so much, and what can be done to remedy it?

    This one hurts more than the others precisely because we did so many, many things right…only to end up in a supporting role to another team’s lore and legends, and because the some of the best all-around hockey played by the Caps in recent memory–both individually and as a team–seemingly went for naught.

    It is inevitable that some will call for firing everybody, blowing up the team, etc. Some of those voices might call for throwing Joel Ward under the bus because of the late penalty that contributed significantly to the loss of Game 5 (had we won, there might have been no Game 7 and we would be gearing up for the Devils. But I say unto them: Don’t even go there. Because without Joel Ward we also might not have eliminated the Bruins.

    Your site rocks and so do the Caps, Peter.

  • Road worrier

    Hunter Hockey is the way of the future (until there is another lockout and the rule. makers decide to free up offenses again). Look at Philly, Chicago and Vancouver, great offensive teams that folded to the likes of Nashville, New Jersey and LA, known for defense and goalies, just as the Caps did in previous years. The Caps were 1-2 breaks away from winning this series in 6. I think the ’98 Caps of Kolzig and Juneau and Hunter (with Bondra as offensive relief) are where we are headed, or where Dale is taking us.

  • Thanks for a great season! Somehow you’re always right on the mark about Semin, which is refreshing to read. Lots of love from Baltimore!

  • Thanks so much for entertaining and informing me about all things hockey related (Mostly hockey related – LOL) this year. This is where I go for the best Caps coverage every day and I can’t wait until next season. You guys get better every year!
    Oh, one more thing, thanks for the O’s coverage. It helps a Bel Air, MD fan to have even more of a connection with a DC team. : )

  • Charlie

    Thanks for everything, Russian Machine! I always look forward to reading all of your pre-games, post-games, and everything in between. Keep it up, and I look forward to more RMNB as the days go by!

  • beesoccer

    I have always followed the caps and after finding this blog this season, it has made the experience of watching the games 10 times better. Checking the posts here soon became habitual and I am so glad it did. While I wish the caps had won, I think they played well over the playoffs and I am looking forward to next season with high hopes and a promising new goalie with maybe some modifications of Hunter hockey to better fit the personnel that the caps have. Just as a side note from the end of last season I had been an advocate of a Holtby-Neuvirth tandem in net and was not too excited about the addition of Vokoun though he was pretty good when he played. Hopefully the caps can come back stronger from this next season and CRASH THE NET!!

  • Daisy

    I only just found your blog this year and I don’t know why it took me so long. You have made my love for the Caps even greater then it was before. I’m really sad that the season is over for them but I’m hoping I will still have lots of reasons to check your site over and over until next season starts.

  • SO_CAL_Brat

    Thank you RMNB!!! I couldn’t have survived this season without you. Seriously, it was a rough season. I found myself pillaging through your blogs for answers, sanity & an all around good time. With RMNB it’ll be completely, mostly survivable. Can’t wait for the day we ultimately get to “bailamos”…..cause I will be “bailamosing” my a$$ off.

    Looking ahead to 2012-13 Season: CAPS in 98

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