Alex Ovechkin Has Favorited One Tweet; It Was His Own

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Tampa’s Steven Stamkos set off a mini firestorm this week just by favoriting a tweet that wondered aloud if he might ever play in Toronto. One month earlier we saw the same thing with Winnipeg’s Evander Kane, who favorited a tweet requesting that he come play for the Flyers.

Social media is a wild and wacky world; one that we as a society don’t fully understand. I deal with this a lot in my day job. Stuff is just not clear. Twitter’s “favorites” feature in particular is kinda poorly designed. It means different things to different people, and the feature is not nearly as private as the name suggests.

But the point I really want to make is this: Alex Ovechkin has favorited just one tweet, and it was his own.

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Photo: Tim Stough / Sweetest Hockey On Earth

The Washington Capitals have signed 2014 third-round pick Nathan Walker to a three-year entry-level contract. The 20-year-old becomes the first-ever Australian national to sign with an NHL team. Crikey!

Walker made his preseason debut with the Caps last season, playing as an unrestricted free agent on a tryout contract. He was one of the more impressive players during camp, showing off his speed, tenacious forechecking, and skill. His through-the-legs pass to Tom Wilson for a goal appeared on SportsCenter last September.

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evgeny-kuznetsov

Photo: @kuzy092

We’re still 7 weeks away from training camp, but two important Washington Capitals players have already made it back to the district: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.

(A whole month early for training?! What a bunch of lazy, unreliable Russians! Am I doing this right?)

We were tipped off to the players’ movements when Kuznetsov posted a selfie with his wife on Instagram shortly after boarding a plane at 2AM on Thursday. His caption was, “✈️✈️✈️ DC,” which means either that he had two connecting flights or — like me — he realizes that emoticons are effective only if you repeat them a lot.

Eight hours later, Orlov posted a photo posing with his girlfriend at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in D.C. I cannot tell if his broken left arm is healed or out of the cast yet.

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Photo: DaveArt.com

A lot has changed in Washington D.C. since last season, including the goalie situation. On the first day of free agency, new Caps GM Brian MacLellan signed veteran goalie Justin Peters to be Braden Holtby‘s back-up. That means goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer, who shined in a one-month stint with the team last December, will likely be relegated to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears for most of next season.

I bring that up because, um, well, this is awkward. Grubauer’s new mask from Swedish airbrush artist David Gunnarsson is 100% Caps-flavored.

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The End of the Trend

trotz and co

I’m really excited about the upcoming Caps season. After replacing Adam Oates with Barry Trotz, I predict the Caps will– finally– reverse their five-year decline and start to get better in 2014-15.

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But people who expect a coaching change to immediately transform the team into a Cup contender won’t find solace in the literature.

Teams changing coaches saw their Fenwick Close % increase about 0.35%; after a coaching switch, teams averaged one more Corsi attempt for and 0.4 more Corsi attempts against per 60 minutes, and saw very slight decreases in shooting and save percentages.

Nick Emptage, NHLNumbers.com

Long-term, there seems to be a 1-point boost (from 48.4% to 49.4%) once a team replaces its coach.

Gabriel Desjardins (I think), Arctic Ice Hockey

By that math (and before accounting for roster changes) we might expect the Caps to have around 48-percent puck possession next season. That would kind of suck. I’m a bit more optimistic.

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michael-latta

Photo: Doug Pensinger

After spending most of 2013-14 with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Capitals’ center prospect Michael Latta is now poised to gain a full-time roster spot in Washington next season. Acquired at the 2013 trade deadline in the infamous Forsberg-Erat trade, Latta had one goal and four points in 17 NHL games last season but left a good impression, winning 52.2% of his face-offs and playing an effective, physical game on the fourth line. Latta was one of the team’s best players at drawing penalties, leading the team in penalty differential.

After signing a two-year contract on July 1st, Latta is practically guaranteed a roster spot in the NHL next season.

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On Monday, Maria Kirilenko announced through R-Sport that she and Alex Ovechkin were dunzo. “There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t want to go in detail,” Kirilenko said, as translated by Fedor Fedin. “I’ll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.”

Without sharing those details, the gossip hounds turned to speculation.

Case in point: Ovechkin, who is currently vacationing on a French beach, posed in photos that got published on the internet. One person in those photos was gymnast Karolina Sevastyanova. Sevastyanova was scrutinized in particular for a) being a woman, and b) being near Alex in those photos.

R-Sport, who first broke the break-up news (say that three times fast), later published a nonsensical story, which later got translated by Sport Illustrated’s Allan Muir. That article, entitled Alex Ovechkin dumped by Maria Kirilenko over Instagram photo, was shared widely across social media. Despite the fact that Kirilenko and Ovechkin hadn’t been seen together in weeks, the article made it seem as if the pictures were the scandal that split the couple up.

On Tuesday, Kirilenko shot back in an interview with Sovetsky Sport’s Nikolay Mysin, calling those reports “laughable.” “I made my decision to break up the engagement long before these pictures appeared on the social networks,” Kirilenko said, as translated by RMNB’s Igor Kleyner.

Kirilenko added, “it is not a secret for anybody that Sasha has certain habits and particulars of behavior that I did not consider worth tolerating anymore.”

Her full comments are below.

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laich-hough

Photo: @BrooksLaich

You’re bummed right now. I get it. Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko have broken up, Weezer is making new music (their new single is terrible), and the second Hercules movie of the year is about to drop and it’s got The Rock in a wig. It’s a bad time to be a human. Heavy Ovi thoughts tonight.

But there is some happy news on the romance beat. Brooks Laich used the L word in a happy birthday tweet to girlfriend Julianne Hough.

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Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko are engaged

Ovechkin and Kirilenko after they got engaged. (Photo: @Ovi8)

This morning, R-Sport announced that Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko have parted ways and ended their engagement. Kirilenko gave an official statement and retweeted R-Sport’s article on Twitter around 10:30 AM.

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This weekend, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin flew to France to enjoy the lovely beaches of St. Tropez. On what he described as his vacation, Ovechkin hung out with former KHL player (CSKA) Ruben Begunts and Brooklyn Nets small forward Andrei Kirilenko (Maria’s cousin).

And for the first time ever, I saw Ovechkin dive.

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