Joel Ward Scores Goal On Jackie Robinson’s Birthday

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Photo via the Caps website

Joel Ward wore #29 his first three seasons in the NHL. After breaking out for seven goals and thirteen points during Nashville’s deep playoff run in 2011, Ward signed a four-year, $12-million contract with the Washington Capitals. With great contracts must also come great responsibility, so Ward picked a commensurate jersey number.

Ward chose to wear #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson — the first black Major League Baseball player. Since then, Ward’s been nothing but class, a leader of the African American community for the region and for a sport that badly needs one. When confronted with racist tweets after his Game 7 game-winner against Boston last year, Joel showed poise and maturity.

Jackie Robinson would have turned 94-years-old on Thursday if he were still alive. Ward honored his trailblazing hero the best way he could: by scoring a goal.

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Graig Abel

Photo credit: Graig Abel

Remember how we were whining about losing that game in Ottawa? How it wasn’t fair? How we were skeptical that lady luck would ever swing the Washington Capitals’ way?

Not tonight. The Caps’ loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t an artifact of luck, but rather the sadly predictable result of a penalty parade.

Mike Ribeiro hit up Joel Ward on the weak side for an easy opening goal. JVR tied it up with a rebound goal during a super-sized power play for the Leafs.  Alex Ovechkin recorded a PPG with a nasty wrister to restore Washington’s lead. Then the Capitals killed off a eleventy billion penalties. The Leafs tied it up in the third when Nikolai Kulemin ate snow to knock home a loose puck behind Neuvy. The Leafs stole the lead with a Matt Frattin net-crash halfway into the third.

Leafs beat Caps 3-2.

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Animated: Craig Laughlin Signs My TV (Again)

Craig Laughlin signs my TV

GIF by welshhockeyfan

Washington Capitals color guy Craig Laughlin is an expert telestrator. And he knows it. That’s why tonight, after he drew up Joel Ward’s first period goal, he completed his telestrating by signing my TV (again). I equate this to a rapper dropping the mic after a sweet verse. Thanks, Locker. I’m going to put this up on eBay ASAP.

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Last week, Ted Leonsis spread his wings by launching Monumental Network, a site  to aggregate all the Caps, Wizards, Mystics, and Verizon Center coverage his company produces. They’ve got original reporting and a network of blogs to cover the living heck out of each team.

Earlier this week, Casey Phillips, Monumental’s digital correspondent crowded in on RMNB’s beat with a story that we should have had. After Cosmopolitan Magazine named Mike Green the sexiest player in the NHL, the Monumental crew asked the team who they thought was truly the most handsome guy around.

The answers will amaze you. Or maybe they won’t. I mean, you know they’re gonna say Brooks, right?

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salute

The Capitals are 1-4-1.  They’re in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, 7 standings points behind the Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

I’m not panicking.

Despite how desperate the standings look, the Capitals are actually playing darn good hockey right now according to their underlying numbers. Let’s take a look at those together and then have a warm glass of milk.

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Heading into their game against Ottawa on Tuesday, the Capitals had won only once in their first five games. But after getting their first win of the year against Buffalo Sunday, the boys were loose and confident after their morning skate. For example, watch as Mike Vogel interviews Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin crashes the interview.

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Typical Ottawa: Sens beat Caps 3-2

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Photo credit: Sean Kilpatrick

The Washington Capitals started something with their first win on Sunday and sought to keep that going against the Ottawa Senators. The Caps brought a sense of coherence and confidence to their game that we haven’t seen in a long time, but the game’s back half started sagging and one bad penalty cost them everything.

The Capitals gave Troy Brouwer his second goal of the year, a net-crashing backhand set up by some hardworking hockey from Wojtek Wolksi and the Caps D-corps. Matt Hendricks deflected Jay Beagle’s wide-angle shot into the net to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. The Senators got on the board with a Condra shot deflected off of Jim O’Brien. Milan Michalek tied it up with a tricky backhand off the faceoff that eluded Neuvirth. Former Cap Sergei Gonchar got the game-winning goal on an undeserved power play in the games final minutes.

Sens beat Caps 3-2.

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A before and after shot showing Wes Johnson's weight loss

A before and after shot of Wes with his health coach Elaine.

On December 6, 2012, while the NHL lockout was in its 82nd day, employees of the Washington Capitals game entertainment crew reunited for hockey for the first time in seven months. The Caps AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, played the Norfolk Admirals in front of a sold out crowd. Hours before the game, arena employees met near the Caps locker room area for a briefing.

As PA Announcer Wes Johnson entered the room, Michael Wurman, Director of Game Entertainment and TV Products, pointed over to the man that many referred to as “Big Guy.” “There have been quite a few changes over the offseason,” Wurman said with a big smile. “And one of them just so happens to be sitting over here: Wes.”

The room gave Johnson a round of applause. “It was very gratifying,” Johnson told me in a phone interview. “And a little embarrassing too.”

“You’re probably in the last five to ten years of your life”

During a winter day a few years ago, Johnson walked out the front door of his Virginia home to run a few errands. As he made his way to his car, the 51-year-old actor, voice-over artist, and comedian, slipped on a patch of ice in his driveway. Despite his five-foot, nine-inch height, Johnson took a big tumble to the ground, ripping ligaments in his ankle.

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Michal Neuvirth, Alex Ovechkin, John Erskine

Erskine (right) celebrates his goal.

Erskine (right) celebrates his goal. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

Photo credit: Nick Wass

The Washington Capitals have won a hockey game. For the first time since April 9, 2012, the Caps defeated their opponent when they beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 at Verizon Center. It had been over eight months since the team’s last victory, a May 9 win over the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs. After the summer and the lockout, the boys got off to an awful start in 2013. They were blown out in their first three games and dropped Friday’s in overtime.

Another thing that hasn’t happen in just about forever also occurred on Sunday. John Erskine, known for his rough hits and bruising fights, scored. A goal. In a hockey game.

It was Erskine’s first tally since the team’s final game of the 2010-11 season, a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. That’s 634 days for those who like a precise count.

“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Erskine, a defenseman, told reporters afterwards. “I just threw it at the net, and you never know what can happen. It can go off people and in the net. That’s the way goals are going in these days.”

“Whenever I score any goals, the boys get up and have a good little cheer,” he added with a wry smile.

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Ovi scores his first goal of the 2012-13 season

In the first four games of the new season, Alex Ovechkin has struggled. He’s looked lost on the right wing and had trouble finding his role in Adam Oates’ new system. Before today’s matinee with the Buffalo Sabres, Ovi had one point, an assist. The Washington Capitals went 0-3-1 during that stretch.

That doesn’t mean Ovechkin hasn’t had his chances — especially in Oates’ 1-3-1 powerplay. After their game against New Jersey on Friday, Mike Green lamented to CSN sideline reporter Al Koken,”I missed [Ovi] on a pass that was about four or five inches out of his wheelhouse.” On Sunday, Green found Ovi with a beautiful cross-ice pass to give the Russian machine his first goal on the season. It would end up being the game-winner.

Video is below the jump.

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