Here’s the Capitals’ Winter Classic Team Photo

2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Practice Day

Photo via Monumental Network.

The Winter Classic is almost here. On Wednesday, the Capitals skated on the Nationals Park ice for the first time, practicing for almost an hour before taking to the ice with their friends and families. During the midday practice, they encountered shadows and glare, with some players resorting to unusual measures. But before all that, they gathered together at center ice to take the official Winter Classic team photo, decked out in their full game day attire. It looks splendid.

Here are a couple more shots from the shoot.

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NationalsParkWinterClassicAlumniGame (16 of 19)

Bondra scores late in the game. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

This year’s NHL Winter Classic has not had much buildup. Aside from the game, there isn’t much going on. The lack of an official alumni game — which had become a tradition at Winter Classics — angered and vexed many fans. Washington cancelled this year’s Caps Convention, saying they wanted to focus on Winter Classic events and has been hyping its former players all year long, with this season being the team’s fortieth anniversary. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, and Caps owner Ted Leonsis have all given competing answers as to why the event didn’t occur. Nevertheless, a group of former Caps, media members, and As Seen on TV people like NBC’s Washington Amelia Segal, took to the Nationals Park ice on Tuesday afternoon as part of an informal skate that came together in the past few weeks.

“I guess we all unfairly assumed that there would be one,” Alan May, who played in the game, said of an official alumni game, noting that Rod Langway and numerous former Blackhawks and Capitals expressed interest. “There’s nothing that can be done about it.”

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NationalsParkWinterClassic (12 of 13)

(Photos by Chris Gordon)

I rolled out of bed yesterday and headed to Nationals Park. The NHL was letting media members in for one final sneak peek before the Winter Classic festivities get underway on Tuesday. The ice crew finished painting the ice and placing the logos, but what really captured my interest was the crew of men attempting to erect a mini Capitol dome in center field, near where the teams will enter. After showing a few butt cracks and spending 45 minutes, the team finally got the top of the dome placed. It was joyous. It also appears a thing that vaguely looks like the White House will stand alongside the dome, which, it must be noted, does not figure the corrected scaffolding and white sheets surrounding it.

Below, take a look at my photos.

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Eric Fehr is God: Caps Blank Pens 3-0

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Yep.

I spent my Saturday at Nationals Park — well, until NHL PR literally chased me out. The stadium is nearly in its full party dress with fake domes, banners, and a sheet of ice with logos on.

But alas, there were still more games on the calendar before New Year’s Day. Tonight the Caps visited Pittsburgh. A bunch of the Penguins have mumps. Crosby had mumps. Mumps makes your face big. Okay, we got that out of the way.

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Attack dog. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

The Barry Trotz era has been a time of tumult for Jay Beagle. In October, he let his beloved Flipper go, a love that had burned bright for six years. Once the season got going, he found his role with the Caps growing. Beagle is skating an average of almost 13 minutes a night this year, a big jump from previous seasons. In fact, Beagle has spent time on the first line skating alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Beags’s has been back there again lately, filling in during Tom Wilson’s recent mid-game benchings.

“Trotz puts a lot of faith in me and puts me in big situations,” Beagle said. “I’m grateful for it. I don’t want to let him down, I don’t want to let my team down, I don’t want to let myself down. You get those opportunities and you make the most of them.”

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Barry Trotz’s Weapon: Ice Time

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

On Saturday night, Nate Schmidt and Andre Burakovsky sat out as the Capitals faced the Devils in Newark. Tom Wilson, the first line right wing, was also benched for most of second period. Barry Trotz’s weapon is ice time, and he uses it.

For Schmidt, it was his first scratch of the season, coming on the heels of excellent play alongside Mike Green throughout the year. The game before, Schmidt had misplayed Blue Jackets forward Michael Chaput, who scored a game-tying goal late in the game.

“Sometimes you have to reset players when they’re not going very well,” Trotz said the benchings. “You have to give them a little jolt.”

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Santa Clause Sang the National Anthem Tonight and Killed It

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Photo: @capsredrockers

On Monday, the Washington Capitals broke out a special surprise for the seventh day of Hanukkah. Before their game against the Ottawa Senators, Santa Claus sung the national anthems. In sonorous tones reminiscent of Bob McDonald, Santa, who was definitely not Bob McDonald, belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O Canada” to the hundreds of fans in attendance, who cheered with bewilderment and amusement.

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Barack Obama Will Not Be at the Winter Classic

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Back in 2010, we — okay, Ian & Peter — created a campaign to get Barack Obama to a Caps game. It seemed like the type of thing a newly-elected president and rising young team would want to get in on. The White House press secretary at the time, Robert Gibbs, responded to RMNB’s pleas. But as we enter 2015, Washington’s Stanley Cup hopes and Obama approval ratings are low. So are the chances we get to see a presidential hockey game. While Obama has attended Wizards, Nationals, Mystics, and college games, he has heretofore ignored hockey in office. RMNB registered these concerns to the highest levels of government.

“I don’t know what the deal is,” Secretary of State John Kerry told RMNB earlier this year.

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Introducing the John Kerry/RMNB Selfie

Kerry Selfie

John Kerry is now a friend-of-the-blog, I guess. Like us, he shares a passion for hockey. Kerry has been playing his whole life, from the varsity team at Yale to the Lawmakers team he led during his years in the Senate. A few days before the Bruins White House appearance in 2012, Kerry appeared at the State of the Union with two black eyes and a broken nose, injures he suffered during a pickup hockey game.

Back in February, I interviewed him before he dropped the puck as part of a ceremony honoring the Olympic athletes from the Jets and Capitals. We chatted just off the ice in the private quarters of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.

“You know this guy?” Ted asked Kerry. Indeed he did.

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BackstromLockerRoomHats (3 of 7)

Photos by Chris Gordon.

Nicklas Backstrom is a quiet Swedish assist machine. He sits in the background, setting up Ovi and racking up points. He’s a bit shy, often speaking to reporters siting down and speaking in a soft tone. He’s not underrated. People know Backstrom is good, but he’s just doesn’t flout it at all. That’s why he’s not one of the league’s most recognizable stars, despite the skill and stats to back it up.

But we Caps fans know how good he is. Tonight, Backstrom put on a grand Saturday night production. After not scoring in almost a month, Backstrom registered a natural hat trick, his first three goal game since 2010, as the Caps beat the Bolts 4-2.

There was a present waiting for him after the game. Upon entering the Capitals locker room, Backstrom found his locker filled with the hats thrown on the ice by fans.

“I don’t know who the f—k was doing that,” Backstrom told me. “Someone surprised me.”

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