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Evgeny Kuznetsov takes off his pads after Sunday’s game. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

By tomorrow morning, big changes may have already struck the Washington Capitals. After the Caps’ final game, a 1-0 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the players were somber, but not angry. They’ve been dealing with postmortem questions since Thursday. Four days later, those questions haven’t got any easier to answer, even if the team’s flaws are clear.

I brought my camera into the locker room as the players took off their skates for the final time this year and faced probing reporters Sunday evening. They’ll have to face the latter again tomorrow morning.

Take a look at my photos.

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Photos by Chris Gordon.

Jay Beagle may not own a smartphone, but he’s a nice dude. After Sunday’s 1-0 shootout loss to Tampa, the Caps held the ritual Jerseys Off Our Backs ceremony. When a man was presented with Beagle’s game-worn sweater, team photographers were swarming all around. However, the guy had more important business: Taking a selfie with Jay Beagle.

Later in the ceremony, someone else got the same idea. After pulling number 92, a gentleman tried to take a selfie with Evgeny Kuznetsov. His arm, however, was too short. Not to fear. Kuznetsov, an active user of social media, took control, asking for the phone and taking the series of photos himself. It wasn’t Kuznetsov’s first time doing that either.

Related: The Selfies With Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jay Beagle From Fan Appreciation Day

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Photos by Chris Gordon

After missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years, most Caps players were resigned when they spoke to the media after the game. However, the team’s annual Jerseys Off Our Backs ceremony added a little levity to an otherwise despondent day.

In particular, one member of the Capitals staff was skating around the ice wearing Google Glass, presumably filming the proceedings on them. Karl Alzner, though, wanted a try. As other players were giving away their sweaty garb, Karl tried on the gizmo wiz-bang for himself.

We’ll add the video to this post when it’s published, but for now take a look at some of my photos.

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Photo: Alex Brandon

With 42 seconds left in the Capitals’ 4-0 win over Chicago, Jay Beagle skated to the bench looking for a change. He had been on the ice for three shifts in the last four minutes. His teammates, however, were adamant that he stay on the ice. But finally, after Beagle crawled over the bench wall, Eric Fehr stepped on for the final shift.

“I felt bad for him because I knew how tired he was,” Fehr told me. “I could see it in his eyes. He doesn’t get that look very often. He was begging to come off. I took a second and evaluated it and figured I better go.”

Said Beagle of his reaction: “I said “’I’m not! I’m not staying on. I can’t even move my legs anymore!”

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The Nail: Devils Beat Caps 2-1

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.

With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.

The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.

During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.

The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.

Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.

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The Achilles Heel of the Capitals Power Play

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Photo: Patrick Smith

The Caps are bad at defense and give up a lot of odd-man breaks. Even when they win, Washington can’t hide that flaw. One aspect of that is particularly troubling: the amount of rushes they allow on their own power play.

The Capitals man-advantage has kept them afloat all year, generating about a third of their offense. However, against the Stars their PP could barely get going. Dallas had two breakaways on Washington’s opening power play, which was quickly negated by a John Carlson slash.

“Usually odd-man rushes are our breakdowns, not necessarily great plays by them,” Carlson said after the game. “We can’t let that happen. We’re too good of players.”

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Al Koken Calls Everybody Calle Johansson

Photo: Peter Hassett

Filling in for Joe B. has to be tough. It’s even harder when you have to do it on short notice, which Al Koken was forced to do on Sunday after Beninati fell ill. There are, after all, a lot of names to memorize in play-by-play. It seems Smokin’ Al, who flew into Nashville last night after doing yesterday’s game, remembered one name a little too well: Calle Johansson.

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Brouwer laughs at Ian. Seriously, that’s what’s happening in this photo. (Photo: Patrick Smith)

Ian Oland is a very stupid person. In the midst of Troy Brouwer’s poor start, Ian bet that the winger wouldn’t hit 20 goals this season. Because he lost, Ian had to dress up as a Brouwer Ranger during Saturday’s game. Since the beginning of February, however, Brouwer has 13 goals. He scored two against Nashville on Sunday, hitting a career high. With 23 goals, Brouwer is having his best season ever.

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Photo: Rob Carr

For 10 years, Jarome Iginla was the captain of the Calgary Flames. He was the franchise, in the same way Alex Ovechkin is now synonymous with the Washington Capitals. But in Iginla’s last few years with the team, the Flames got bad. Wanting to win a Cup before his career was over, Iginla engineered a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, spurring the Boston Bruins at the last second. The closest Iginla had ever come was a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2004.

Ironically, the Bruins headed to the Final against the Blackhawks last season, with another year ticking off on Iginla’s career. He signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Bruins this offseason. At 36, Iginla is on the top team in the east. The Bruins clinched the Atlantic Division by beating Washington on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been a fun year,” Iginla told reporters after the game. “It’s been fun to win games and battling at the top of the league, to be on some streaks as a group and see them go in too. It’s been fun.”

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Studs. Also, Troy gets Brouwer Bombed. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

The day has come. During warmups before today’s game against the Bruins, RMNB’s Ian Oland pressed his body against the Verizon Center glass in section 102 dressed only in spandex.

“I’m sorry for doubting you, Troy,” his sign read.

In November, Ian made a bet. It was somewhat accidental: if Troy Brouwer scored 20 goals this season, Ian would dress as a Brouwer Ranger. That looked unlikely for a while, but with a wacky 11-goal total in 15 games during February and March, Brouwer hit the milestone for the first time as a Capital. On Saturday, the #IanOlandApologyTour began. Ian, who wanted me to say he “looks pretty skinny” and is “definitely not fat,” wiggled into the famous unitard. He looked like an imbecile, but that’s the point. Brouwer agreed, coming over and giving a thumbs up to the newly expanded trio.

Ian will be watching the rest today’s game from section 402, right in front of the Brouwer Rangers. He’ll be very sweaty. Never make bets on Twitter.

Here’s how it went down.

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