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[Ed note: Hockey Hemingway Jason Rogers is back for you to love and adore. Talk to him via the Tweetaz at @HeyJayJRogers. Any and all credit goes to the PuckBuddys.]

15 minutes of ice time

15 minutes of ice time

Andy Warhol Says*: Everywhere you look, you see Pittsburgh fans. In Andy’s view, “…it’s all so beautiful.” Of course, he was hopped up on horse tranqs.

But this is Pittsburgh. And at the first insinuation of bandwagon chasing, they all claim family ties to the city. First of all, you cannot all be from there. It is just not a big enough city for every Yuengling-guzzling bar rat to crawl back to. And even if they did all somehow come from Pittsburgh, you know why they’re here now? Because they got the hell out of Pittsburgh as soon as they could. There’s even a website devoted to the phenomenon. And so with the sacred camaraderie of refugees from a land not worth returning to, the Penguins wander about the NHL landscape. On Tuesday the Capitals take the fight to them, and you can bet they’ve had their road Whites mustard-proofed.

The Morning Skate:

Besides giving you an occasion to air out your novelty #87 custom Capitals jersey with the name CRSBYSX, this game will be a barometer for the rest of the Caps’ season. [Nerd Alert!] Are the Penguins relatively on fire? Yes. Are the Capitals relatively on Hoth? You betcha. But the Caps need to win about 75% of their remaining games to make the playoffs, and like those valiant infantrymen of the Rebel Alliance, the Caps can’t expect every battle to be against hapless storm troopers or to get help from the Wampa-like Erskine.

Anyone can beat up on Florida. Hell, even the Supreme Court did it in 2000.(Look it up, noobs!) But Washington will have to beat the good teams, too. If the Caps want to be counted among the best eight teams in the conference come May, they’ll have to blaze a winning trail through cities like Pittsburgh, Montreal, and Boston. That trail will then be cordoned off and burned to prevent cross-contamination.

Secondly, the Caps could use a gut check to find out how bad they want it. Like mayonnaise left in the sun, the Capitals have a problem with consistency. Let’s start from the net out. Like a talented escort with low self-esteem, Braden Holtby can do remarkable things with this hands and legs, but lets in a lot of softies too. He keeps them in a lot games they don’t deserve, but has a bad habit of spotting opponents an easy goal or two in otherwise winnable games.

Holtby makes a lot of saves he shouldn’t, but not enough that he should. Add that to the streaky-deeky of crucial role players like Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault and the Capitals’ odds of making the playoffs start to look like a random number generator. A random number generator that only cycles between “SLIM” and “NIL.” [Fake Ed Note: Slim just left town.] There are guys that contribute night-in and night-out, guys like Mike Ribeiro, Troy “Manimal” Brouwer and –yes—Alex Ovechkin. But with such a dearth of true talent, the Capitals need the rest of their roster to overachieve. Now is when we start to see how long this team really wants to keep playing.

And with that dazzling analysis complete, we now turn to the segment UNESCO designated a World Heritage site:

Fascinating

Fascinating

Liable to Libel: A Baker’s Dozen Lies About Today’s Opponent:

  • Marc-Andre Fleury often stops people mid-sentence and says, “Please, ‘Marc-Andre’ is so formal. Call me Marc-Andy.”
  • Matt Cooke was cast as Achilles in the Pittsburgh Players’ theatrical production of Troy, but dropped out when he couldn’t cut it. Get it?!
  • Looking for a mascot to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, Pittsburgh chose a docile flightless bird easily killed by seals, whales, and anything with thumbs.
  • When asked his opinion of Crosby, Mike Milbury smiled and blushed and giggled, “Why, did he ask about me?
  • In a recent survey, 94% of Pittsburgh residents shown Mario Lemieux’s name written out pronounced it “Luh-MEE-ucks.”
  • The concession stands at Consol Energy Center now sell a “Pittsburger,” consisting of a beer-soaked Hines Ward jersey on a trash bag.
  • Tomáš Vokoun was thrilled to move to Pittsburgh after so many years of living in boring, dreary Miami, and with so many strange thingees over his name.
  • When asked whether he resents playing second fiddle to superstar Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin said, “No way, just like plenty of people like Luigi better than Mario….right?” (Really. PuckBuddys’ truth.)
  • Marc-Andre Fleury has the best hyphen-to-soul-patch ratio of any starting goaltender in the eastern conference.
  • Pittsburgh residents claim the Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers all wear the same colors for city identity. It’s really so residents don’t have do all that hard reading.
  • Yuengling is releasing a limited-edition brew called “Crosby’s Tears.” When you pull the tap, it claims you hooked it and chirps to the ref.
Yup. Yup. Just that.

Yup. Yup. Just that.

The Puck Drop:

  • Fleury and the Beast: I mentioned earlier that the Caps need their goalie to not give away games. Well Marc-Andre Fleury could be honored by Toys For Tots for his generous donations. Le Fleur plays the puck about as well as Stephen Hawking plays the drums (heya!)  He’s less comfortable in the trapezoid than a geometry student with agoraphobia, and Captain Chrysanthemum can be counted on to generate one or two juicy chances a game. With scrappy boards men like Chimmer and Beagle, the Caps could really give Tulip some headaches. Oates should have his boys playing more Dump and Chase than a Taylor Swift album.
  • The Best Defense Is a Good Defense: Though you wouldn’t know it to watch the Caps play, most NHL teams play with six defense-men on their bench. And typically, those six defense-men have played in the NHL before. Riddled with groinitis mayuer and DPS (Degenerative Poti Syndrome), the Capitals defense has been saved only by the rich chocolaty depths of the Hershey system. If not for whatever is in the water in the barn where they keep the Hersey goalies and defense-men, guys like Alzner, Carlson, Oleksy, and Orlov would not be able to step up so capably. The fairly seamless transition these AHL blue liners have made to the big leagues is not typical, and as deep as Hershey may be, eventually they’re going to run out of good defensemen to send up when we have injuries. And when that happens, the only blue line in Washington making stops will be the one that runs from Georgetown to U Street.
  • Read Between the (Top) Lines: Much has been made about the Capitals’ lack of true top-six talent. I don’t necessarily buy all of it. I’ll take two lines of Ovechkin-Backstrom-Brouwer, Ribeiro-Laich-Fehr. Ribs is a center-man but he can’t win face offs, so move him outside and keep him on the ice. Brooks-and-Done has been hurt for a long time but will eventually recover, potentially soon. That gives the Capitals two pretty dynamic top lines, and like a good conga party, two solid grinding lines behind them. They may not win any President’s Trophies with this roster, but I don’t see the same barren offensive wasteland that some in the city seem to. I believe the Capitals are an average team in a terrible division that average is good enough to win. They have 20 games left to prove who’s averagest-est.

So that about does it. Puck drop is 7:30 in the Steel City. See you there, and Go Caps.

*Ed note: We really don’t really think Holtby is that remarkable with his hand and legs…or if we do, we’ll just not discuss it.

*”Don’t pay attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” — Andy Warhol.

Tagged with:
 
  • http://twitter.com/HeyJayJRogers Jason Rogers

    I can’t imagine ANYONE cares, but I can actually be followed @HeyJayJRogers

  • http://www.facebook.com/shehryar.shaukat Shehryar Shaukat

    This was one of the funniest articles I’ve read in a long long time.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    FIXED! sorry/thanks

  • http://twitter.com/HeyJayJRogers Jason Rogers

    No problem, boss.

  • SanDiegoLand

    Funny but, not the funniest. Smells like a warming plate of crow. Good luck fellas.

  • Penswins

    Pittsburgh 10 wins in a Row, Caps lose and enjoy an early summer.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Jason, This is super funny. Great work.

  • Jess

    Best one of the season…still giggling over the Holtby description.

  • SC3

    Hey, I heard
    RussianMachineOnlyShowsUpWhenHeWantsTo.com
    is for sale. You guys should look into it.

  • pete

    Awww… missed opportunity to relate Erskine to Chewbacca. Otherwise, FANTASTIC!

  • JustAJokeAnymore

    I like how Caps fans consider this such a rivalry. As a Pens fan I suggest you get in line; Flyers, Rangers, Devils, Red Wings, Islanders, Senators, then maybe the Caps. Every game against the Pens is your game 7.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Man, I really don’t like getting into these kinds of arguments, but I gotta.

    Caps have won 9 of the last 11 games in Pittsburgh. Recently, at least, you are right. This has not been a rivalry. Caps have smoked the Pens in their own barn.

    Tonight on the other hand…

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    it should be “Russian Machine Shows Up ONLY When He Wants To.”

  • SC3

    But hey, you guys always have that “Winter Classic” banner hanging from the rafters.

  • JustAJokeAnymore

    Who said anything about wins? Speaking more towards the hatred of the franchises/fan bases. And if you want to bring wins into this, then I will bring head-to-head playoff records. Most of us couldn’t care less about a Caps game. A Flyers or Ranger game… completely different.

  • http://twitter.com/HeyJayJRogers Jason Rogers

    Come on…..Wampas!

  • http://twitter.com/HeyJayJRogers Jason Rogers

    The NHL, NBC, ESPN and EA Sports consider it a rivalry. But what do all them know.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    After games, there’s a crowd on the steps across from Verizon Center that might disagree with you.

  • JustAJokeAnymore

    And after games with the Flyers there are people “disagreeing” with each other. Anyway… have a great day.

  • JustAJokeAnymore

    Yeah. And why would they want to hype a game for ratings or anything?

  • Eric from the burgh!

    Alot of balls to talk about a team that currently stands in first place with 3 of the leagues leading scorers… Hmm just because your 72milion dollar pony can’t win a race dosent mean u can talk smack on a real team.. Just saying get in line and get your tickets cuz this is gonna be one helluva run for the pens!!!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

  • serpent

    Nah, totally Chewie there.

  • serpent

    Gee, Peter.What does it say for the Pitts if their bloggers prefer to hang out with us?

  • http://twitter.com/ATPinDC Alison T-P

    This is genius. A masterwork of simile silliness. Well done! Not to mention diving deep into localhood with the Circulator reference. Very nice work!

  • http://twitter.com/slapbetcomish TFB

    Well done guys! And I’ll say right now there needs to be a shirt featuring the Muppets “Animal” wearing a Brouwer jersey…MANIMAL

  • http://www.facebook.com/astobie Andrew Stobie

    Okay that isn’t really a good example… NHL (Bettman), NBC is NBC, ESPN (Hoc-key?), EA (seriously?).

  • yourebad

    Please point out where the world ‘rivalry’ is in this article.

  • Cara

    it’s funny to see all these Pittsburgh fans getting into their feelings about this article…maybe go read some Penguins blogs? Way to go RMNB, LET’S GO CAPS!

  • Moira Donohue

    This was so, so funny and clever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dotheovi Zach Evans

    Best article I’ve read in awhile! Great work guys!

  • yourebad

    I’d much rather watch Caps lose in DC, then visit Pittsburgh ever again to watch them Win. Say ello to Jersey for me cause you’re the other armpit of America.

  • Alex

    Awww, you must be a recent bandwagon Pens fan… Let’s everyone give him credit for trying, okay? It’s not his fault he hasn’t seen a Caps-Pens game before the Crosvechkin era!

  • HMA8

    “Like a talented escort with low self-esteem, Braden Holtby can do remarkable things with this hands and legs, but lets in a lot of softies too.”

    Hilarious!

  • maveric101

    If it’s such a non-rivalry, what exactly are you doing on this blog?

  • http://twitter.com/dylanwheatley83 dylan wheatley

    i will boldly predict a huge game for fehr, brouwer and laich. i will also boldly use split infinitives to my heart’s desire.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    split infinitives are a-okay! /grammarhat

  • http://twitter.com/jwiley30m Justin Wiley

    The Penguins do have a lot of bandwagon fans… all good teams do. Can anyone here honestly say the Capitals don’t have atleast as many? Also, Yuengling is from eastern PA…

  • Joe…err Pat

    wampas wanna help

  • Nickn

    …says the pens fan stalking a caps blog.

  • Capsuck

    I bet you feel dumb now that the Pens beat the Caps again…

  • Duey

    My Godson………..you’re awesome!!