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Photos by Igor Kleyner

The Capitals took their team photo on Thursday. It was perfectly normal, with players and coaches lining up at center ice to pose for photographers. Except for two exceptions: the Chick-fil-a cow and the Parking Panda. Anything for sponsors!

The cow was helped onto the ice by defenseman Karl Alzner before being led off by none other than Alex Ovechkin. No word on the whether the panda received any assistance. The team later took a normal photo.

Thanks to an accident on 50, I missed the biggest Caps cow-related photo-op since Jenn chopped the head off some rubber animals last year. However, RMNB spaceman and Kuyza-whisperer Igor Kleyner did leave on time. He snapped these photos.

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When I sat down to film my CRL segment on Jay Beagle’s flip phone, I thought he might be mildly annoyed. Maybe he was appearing at the behest of the Capitals PR department. We were, after all, making fun of him, if only in a lighthearted way. Instead, Beags played along. He talked about Flipper, guessed his teammates tweets, and sat through my flubbed intros.

When it came time to try out new phones with the Verizon guy, Beagle pretended not to know how anything worked.

“So how do I answer a call?” he asked regarding a touch screen phone, after “accidentally” turning on some music. “I can’t flip it!”

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RMNB on CRL: Jay Beagle’s Flip Phone

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Photo: Sarah Kogod

Jay Beagle is a simple guy. He drives a 2004 Chevy Silverado and likes to go muddin’ and shootin’ in the Canadian country during the offseason. Beags is unswayed by the flash and flourish of other professional athletes. He still has a flip phone.

“Flipper,” and it’s a she, has been with him for six years. Beags is protective of it, threating to break the phones of any teammates who hatch nefarious ideas to steal his beloved device. Perhaps even throw them off a balcony. That’s not all though.

Beagle has never been on Twitter. He doesn’t own a computer. He does not take pictures with his iPad. For our latest segment for Caps Red Line, we wanted to see if we could take Jay into the 21st century. I don’t think it worked.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Hand Video Bombs RMNB Interview

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With each game he plays, Evgeny Kuznetsov grows more comfortable on the ice. On Saturday morning, twelve hours after recording his first NHL point and first multi-point game with the Washington Capitals, Kuznetsov showed that he’s also growing more comfortable in the role of locker room prankster.

Here’s the story. As I filmed Ian’s interview with Jaroslav Halak, a figure walked towards the stall just to my right. He said “hello” in a Russian accent, came up behind me, and then put his hand in front of my camera for a few seconds. He totally ruined my shot.

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Photo: Paul Frederiksen

Brouwer celebrates his first goal (Photo: Paul Frederiksen)

Brouwer celebrates his first goal (Photo: Paul Frederiksen)

Coming soon to warmups near you: Ian Oland in spandex. With an empty-net goal against Toronto Sunday, Troy Brouwer netted his 20th goal of the season. Ian had a bet with the Brouwer Rangers that if Troy scored 20 this year, he would go to a game with Nathan and Ryan dressed in a red unitard. Time to buy a fanny pack.

“I’m excited!” Brouwer told me of Ian’s future gear.

Brouwer’s goal was made possible by a kind turn from Nicklas Backstrom. After Brouwer banked the puck off the boards from the defensive zone, Nicky followed the puck towards the net. The Swedish center neglected to touch the puck, allowing Brouwer to hit the milestone.

“That’s the most unselfish thing I’ve ever seen in hockey,” Brouwer said.

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Joel Ward Hides in Weeds, Scores 20th Goal of Year

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Photo: Paul Frederiksen

Only one line on the Capitals is made up entirely of double-digit scorers: the third line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward. As we’ve mentioned before, they have been Washington’s top scoring threat outside of Alex Ovechkin this season. Sunday, Ward tallied 20 goals for the first time in career, while also assisting on Chimera’s foot-goal earlier in the first period.

“My karma paid off,” Ward told me after the game. “For me, I just hide in the weeds and try to look for some loose pucks.”

Ward had already topped his previous career high of 17 goals on the first of the month in Boston. Always a solid checking line forward, the 33-year-old has taken off as an offensive force this season. He already has six more goals this year than he did in his first two seasons with the Caps combined (six in ’11-’12, eight in ’13). Caps head coach Adam Oates has also given Ward a prime spot down low on the power play this year, which accounted for his goal against the Leafs. Per your boy Mike Vogel, members of the third line have been on the ice for 10 of Washington’s last 13 goals.

“I’ve counted on Wardo and Chimmer all year long,” Oates. “They penalty kill, power play. Big bodies that we count on for a lot of minutes to get territory for us. It’s good to see them rewarded because you don’t get a lot of accolades based on that, doing grunt work.”

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Photos by Chris Gordon

You might had to contend with hordes of drunk dudebros in green on Saturday night. That’s life around St. Patrick’s Day.

On Sunday afternoon, the Capitals got in the spirit of the holiday. They wore green jerseys, modified versions of the team’s third-line practice sweaters with shamrocks on the shoulders and inside the numbers.

The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game outside section 109. Some of the profits benefiting the Anacostia Watershed Society, which helps clean up the river.

Below, take a look at some of my sweet iPhone shots of the duds. My camera’s memory card, um, failed.

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Nicklas Backstrom to IOC: FedEx Me My Silver Medal

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When the International Olympic Committee banned Nicklas Backstrom from the Sochi gold medal game last month, it seemed doubtful the Swede would receive the sliver medal awarded to the rest of his teammates.

Following an appeal, however, the IOC has relented under pressure. Announcing the news Friday afternoon, they ruled that Backstrom had no intention of taking Zyrtec D as a performance enhancer and decided to award him a silver medal after all.

Following the Capitals’ 4-3 win over the Canucks, Backstrom spoke about the decision for the first time.

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Photo: Rob Carr

In Evgeny Kuznetsov’s first NHL game on Monday, he skated a little over 10 minutes on the fourth line, briefly seeing time on the power play. It was clear the young Russian was an NHL rookie playing on a team he had yet to practice with. Things got better the next day though. In Pittsburgh, Kuznetsov registered nearly 15 minutes of ice time, collecting three shots on goal. If not for a confounding leg save by Marc-Andre Fleury, the 21-year-old Russian would have scored his first NHL goal.

On Friday, Kuznetsov continued the trend. He picked up the first three points of his North American career. The 2010 first round pick collected the first two in just over three minutes, assisting on successive goals by Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson in the second period. He added the third on Washington’s go ahead goal in the third period. The Caps won 4-3.

“I hope we win today,” he told 15 members of Washington Capitals press corps gathered around his locker. “That’s first for me.”

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In spite of his reputation as a reckless gambler, Alex Ovechkin was very focused. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

[Ed. Note: We already brought you tons of photos of Caps players looking ridiculous as they dropped fake money at table games during the team’s annual Casino Night. But what about the fan perspective on the event? For that, we naturally turned to the guys that bought red spandex tuxedos on Amazon, the Brouwer Rangers. I’ll let Ranger Nathan take it away.]

Waking up on the morning of your first Caps Casino Night is like waking up on Christmas morning. Except you don’t get to open presents until after you’ve spent the whole day at work.  And you have to wear a suit, not pajamas. Also you pay for all your own presents.

Nevertheless, we awake with great anticipation, and spend much of the day preparing. Ranger Nathan starts researching table games as soon as he arrives at work. Hoping to have a chance to show off some James Bond-level expertise, Ranger Nathan does a quick Google search but ends up just watching a lot of Burt Bacharach videos.

Lots of boring work stuff happens before we rendezvous at Ranger Ryan’s house to get ready. Finally, we arrive at the hotel. As a group of fans piles into the elevator in the parking garage, Mikhail Grabovski and his wife step through the door. Nobody acknowledges them. It’s weird. Though we all recognize him, no one wants to be the first goober to say, “Oh hey you’re Mikhail Grabovski!” Instead, we just do that head nod “what’s up” thing and stand there silently for the whole elevator ride pretending like this scenario is totally normal. Four floors of awkward agony.

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