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Photoshop by Ian Oland

While the Capitals and Red Wings were busy boring a mostly full Verizon Center, a sporting contest of greater import was taking place in the Boston suburbs. With a spot in the AFC Championship Game on the line, the 2013 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens took a 28-14 lead on the New England Patriots. With five minutes left in the game, however, Tom Brady threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New England a 35-31 lead and send the entire state of Maryland into Old Bay-seasoned tears.

After the Capitals’ 3-1 victory over Detroit, I caught up with Joel Ward, a massive Ravens fan. Though Ward scored in Washington’s 22nd victory this year, he become downtrodden when I brought up the game.

“I knew they were going to be tough,” Ward said. “I saw that they were up by a couple scores earlier on. Foxboro is a tough building. I can only imagine how they are feeling right now because it was such a battle with what they accomplished. I think a lot of people counted them out early on.”

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BrouwerOvi

Photo credit: Rob Carr.

On June 9, 2010, Troy Brouwer lifted the Stanley Cup, his Blackhawks defeating the Philadelphia Flyers to win hockey’s biggest prize. But in the months leading up to it, Brouwer was not fully focused on the Cup run. That spring, Don Brouwer, his father suffered a severe stroke, which left him unconscious for a week and required brain surgery. Since then, Don has only seen Brouwer play sporadically when the Caps travel to his hometown of Vancouver.

“You appreciate big things, like life, a little bit more,” Brouwer told Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington. “He’s lucky to be here. The doctors and physical therapists did an amazing job with him getting him back to where he is today. They say the later you are in life, the harder it is to rebound and get back to normal. He did an amazing job too. His will and his fight. You don’t get to say this a lot to your parents, but I’m very proud of him and how far he’s come. He’s really stubborn and he stayed on his therapy to get better.”

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TheSecondComing

Glorious human being. (Photo credit: Alex Brandon)

On January 1, 2011, Eric Fehr blasted into the offensive zone, along with the puck. He unleashed bullet of a wrist shot off the slushy Heinz Field ice. It was his second goal of the game, the 2011 Winter Classic, cementing him in Capitals history.

On Saturday, Fehr scored twice against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a redux of sorts of his 2011 outdoor game performance. Well, according to everyone but him.

“Not really,” Fehr said when asked by Alex Prewitt if that game brought back any memories. “Different kind of goals and obviously different building.”

Today, however, his goal was close as you could get to 2011: breakaway, unassisted, outdoors, and happy times at the end. Nevertheless, Fehr stuck to his talking points, giving nearly the same answer he provided the media Saturday.

“Not really,” Fehr said when asked, once again, if it brought back any memories. “It was a little bit different.”

Still, he was happy.

“It always feels good to score goals, I won’t lie to you,” Fehr, who attributed his play to “some good fresh air,” told me. “The ones in the Winter Classic feel extra special.”

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis saw it coming.

“I walked in today and saw Eric and said ‘You’re our x-factor,” Leonsis told me.

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Scarf

Photo credit: Chris Gordon.

On Wednesday afternoon, Nate Schmidt sat in the corner of the Washington Nationals clubhouse, quietly taking off his gear after Caps practiced outside at Nats Park. With the NHL taking over the baseball stadium, the room has been temporarily transformed into a hockey locker room, though it’s not quite as smelly as a real one. To Schmidt’s right, around 15 reporters gathered around Karl Alzner, eager for his thoughts on the eyewear revolution he started. As RMNB’s Chief Fashion Reporter, I had my eye on a different aspect of Winter Classic apparel: the scarf Schmidt was wearing.

“This is my first ever scarf experience!” Schmidt gleefully announced to me. “First ever. I used to always make fun of people who wore scarves.”

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Trotz Family

Following their sun-splashed practice at Nationals Park on Wednesday, the Washington Capitals stayed on the ice for an informal skate around the outdoor rink, joined by their friends and family — and there were plenty of them. Michael Latta got around 50 tickets for his guests, though he’s not the Capitals leader. According to Latta, John Carlson asked for even more. While the media was ushered away from the rink during the skate, NHL Network cameras and the Caps Twitter account captured some of the heartwarming moments.

These guys are adorable.

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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

deadguins

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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