2012 is just about done, and although we’ve covered about 40 fewer hockey games than we wanted, we’re now delighted to take a look back at the year that was. We’ve ranked our top 10 stories based on traffic so that you can a) wax nostalgic on the days when we actually watched hockey, and b) get the inside scoop on what stories are popular and what stories bomb. Follow me past the jump for the countdown.
As the leading scorer for the Kloten Flyers, Brooks Laich was obligated to wear this be-flamed helmet and jersey. Brooks somehow made the getup work for him, but he looks good in everything. We used to occasion to lobby the NHL and NHLPA to include a flaming uniform clause in the new CBA.
Sovereign Citizen and part-time goalie Tim Thomas was a bit too conspicuous during the spring’s Bruins-Capitals playoff series. Part of that was our fault (as we’ll see later in this list), but part of it was his own doing. During one game, Thomas used his blocker to punch recovering concussion-patient Nick Backstrom in the head. That action usually comes with an automatic game misconduct, but Thomas remained a free man. Say what you will about TT, but he’s an honorable dude, as he apologized to Backstrom in person after game 7.
RMNB secret weapon Ana Hansen knocked it out of the park with her year-end review series. If you asked me, I’d have guessed Alex Semin’s review would have been the breakaway winner of pageviews, but Google Analytics tells me it was this one: Jason Chimera’s recap. I think you can chalk it up to his playoff beard, which reader Bryant Thomas termed his “doom broom.”
Lovable oaf Timothy Thomas makes his second appearance on the list at number 7. This time, the former Vezina and Conn Smythe winner distinguished himself by getting paralyzed by Matt Hendricks’ shootout skills. That’s right: Matt “The Wagon” Hendricks pulled his signature move, which by the end of March goalies really should have seen coming, and froze Thomas in his skates. Thomas swatted the puck away and skated off to the benches, where he promptly fell flat on his face.
All credit goes to @Caps_Girl for this achievement in sports photography, which reads a bit like a Mutual of Omaha film about a savannah lion hunting an antelope, except in this case the savannah lion is a clumsy goofball named Alex Semin. All joking aside, this was a great piece of storytelling from @Caps_Girl, augmented ever so slightly by RMNB’s signature captioning.
Back-to-back Sasha Semin stories, and exactly no one is surprised. This story is so perfectly Semin-esque, it should be required reading for every Hurricanes fan. Alex Semin wins a gold medal at World’s, puts the medal on over his jersey, then tries to take his jersey off. The medal smacks him in the forehead, drawing blood to the delight of pretty much everyone. I seriously wonder if Carolina fans truly know what they’re in for.
We had planning this one for months in hopes that a) the Capitals would play the Bruins in the playoffs, and b) the Capitals would actually make the playoffs. Ian constructed a series of masks to taunt Tim Thomas, and I ripped some stats off of Rasmussen to prove that the goalie’s decline in 2012 correlated with President Obama’s approval ratings. A bunch of other blogs contributed signs as well, and they were a huge hit. Even PTI got in on the action. Of course, the Caps lost that game, but won the series. And at least we all had a damn good story to tell. Thanks for the memories, Timmy!
The non-RMNB press has made a lot of noise in recent years about Alex Ovechkin’s alleged bad attitude. While none of us are in the locker room to confirm that, we’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that it’s a made-up story. As evidence, check out this story from August, where Ovi cheers on his girlfriend, tennis superstar Maria Kirilenko, on her path to Olympic bronze. The guy is giddy like a … well … he’s just giddy like Ovi, dammit.
Coming in at number two is my favorite story of the year. I was out of town on business during the trade deadline, so Ian and Ana ran amok, churning out this dementedly fun mock Facebook timeline (née wall) to document George McPhee’s rather quiet day. I count something like 25 separate jokes in the article, an achievement made even more staggering given how depressing that day was to everyone else. Bravo, sir and madam.
I don’t know much about iSport, the Czech website that interviewed Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth in the offseason, but they certainly know how to get a good interview. They got Neuvy to speak frankly about his competition in Braden Holtby, nudging Tomas Vokoun towards the Penguins, what kind of leader Alex Ovechkin is, whether or not Alex Semin cares, where the bodies are buried, various nuclear codes, the secret of Jon Snow’s parentage, and more. Remember how fun it was when people thought our translation was crummy and then I had to pay a company 700 bucks to vindicate us? Oh, good times. (Unrelated: please please please buy a t-shirt.)
Joking aside: how weird is it that half of our top 10 stories come from after the season and during the lockout? I think that’s a testament to both the terrific community that has popped up in our corner of the world and also Ian’s hard work hunting down compelling stories despite the soul-crushing annihilation of the lockout.
Let’s assume for a moment that 2013 brings with it– along with peace on earth and goodwill towards men– some actual freaking hockey. Imagine then what kind of good stuff is ahead for us.
Thank you for reading Russian Machine Never Breaks in 2012, and I hope you’ll stick around for all that is to come in the new year.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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