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Miller Lite, Crispy M&Ms, the AARP.. and now Russian Machine Never Breaks. With tonight’s Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, we entered the rarefied air of NASCAR sponsors. After a rain delay of nearly seven hours, our boy Ryan Ellis took to the track in his #33 ScienceLogic/RMNB Chevy SS for his debut race in NASCAR’s top series.

As we noted in our profile of him, Ryan is a huge Caps fan, former GMU hockey player, and RMNB reader from Ashburn. Ellis said his goal for the race was to learn and avoid accidents in the penultimate race of the year. He did just that, bringing his car home undamaged in 40th in a hectic race filled with uncertainties and the heat of NASCAR’s playoffs. The race was called due to rain after drivers completed 219 of the scheduled 312 laps. Going forward, Ryan hopes to build on this opportunity to get a full-time ride next year and continue to make Sprint Cup Series starts. Congrats to Ryan on a safe first race! This was one of the coolest things we’ve done as a blog. It was a thrill to share it with him. Let this be a lesson: RMNB readers are awesome!

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Beat that beat up. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

On Saturday night, the Capitals held their fifth annual Casino Night at the Pentagon City Sheraton. Players and coaches made their best attempt at dressing up and participated in table games with fans. There was also a live auction for things like a Segway tour with players that raised a hell of a lot of money and a silent auction for memorabilia. No word yet on how much money was raised, but all of it will go to the team’s Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. Now let’s look at goofy pictures of tipsy players, featuring captions by Peter Hassett.

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Too Little Too Late: Flames beat Caps 3-2 (OT)

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

The night after the Capitals beat the Flyers in a feisty game in which stuff happened, they returned to their home barn looking to extend their winning streak to two games.

The game was super boring and extremely even until Sam Bennett spun Jason Chimera like a top and fed the puck to Michael Frolik for a wrist shot goal from the slot.

Early in the third, Flames added a goal another goal from the slot, this time by Sean Monahan. A few minutes later, the Capitals got back in the game with an actual goal by Michael Latta. Suddenly the game became watchable. Jay Beagle rewarded everybody for paying attention with a tally with less than five minutes left, tying the game. The game went to 3-on-3, where Monahan scored again. Barry Trotz tried to challenge, because that’s a thing he can do now. It didn’t work. Flames beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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Yes, really.

This weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, RMNB’s going country. Our logo will be on the side of Ryan Ellis‘s Sprint Cup car when the 25-year-old Virginian makes his debut in NASCAR’s top series. We’re an associate sponsor of Ellis’s #33 ScienceLogic Chevy SS, which will compete in the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 on Sunday afternoon. Ryan’s a big Caps fan and an even bigger reader of RMNB. We’re happy to support him during this huge moment in his career.

Make sure to tune in to NBC this Sunday at 2:30 pm to watch the race. Please send us a bunch of screenshots when the ScienceLogic/RMNB #33 car zooms by on TV.

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All My Exes Live in Detroit: Wings Blank Caps 1-0

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The Capitals traveled to MoTown Tuesday night, where they still make cars just ones that are a little more Italian. It was a night of reunions and celebrations. But somebody forgot to invite the Caps. The fairy tale was not to be.

The Caps had a torrid pace through much of the first, Alex Ovechkin especially, but they couldn’t crack Petr Mzarek. In fact, the Wings actually scored the game’s opening goal, but Braden Holtby slipped the cookie out of the cookie jar with aplomb.

In the second, the Wings turned the nerd graphs upside down but the Capitals managed to keep the dam from overflowing.

That was until Andreas Athansiou (?) notched his first NHL tally on a fluke sharp angle shot. That was all. Ho hum. Wings blank Caps, 1-0.

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Caps players Peter Bondra and Michal Pivoňka pose with Ellis and his Ashburn Ice House-sponsored car.

Ellis and his Science Logic Sprint Cup Car.

Ellis and his Science Logic Sprint Cup Car.

There’s a reason why race car drivers thank companies before family members in post-race interviews: they are the main reason they have a seat. This Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, Ryan Ellis, a die-hard Caps fan and RMNB reader from Ashburn, will get a shot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the sport’s top level. The 25-year-old will drive the Circle Sport #33 Chevy SS, sponsored by the Reston-based IT firm Science Logic, in the penultimate race of the season.

“I’m really, really freaking excited,” Ellis told me last month.

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Photo: Geoff Burke

Tom Wilson is now in his third full NHL season. He was supposed to be bruising power forward and a complement to top-six playmakers. Instead, the 16th overall pick in 2012 has been a fourth line agitator almost his entire career, fighting and hitting to try to get himself noticed in limited ice time.

On Saturday night, that almost cost the Capitals the game as Wilson, recently demoted back down to the bottom trio, took a double minor for roughing that put his team a man down late in the game. The Maple Leafs scored on the power play that followed, giving themselves a 2-1 lead that would gotten them the victory if not for a stunning goal by Nicklas Backstrom with less than a second left.

“When emotions get tied into close games, that’s how you don’t play,” Barry Trotz said of Wilson’s tomfoolery. “That’s why Tom never saw the ice again. He knows that and hopefully he learns from that.”

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A New Standard: Caps Beat Leafs 3-2 (SO)

Photo: Geoff Burke

After six years, Sergei Fedorov no longer stands alone as the most prolific Russian goal scorer of all time. With a backhanded whack, kiss of the glove, and a one-footed body slam into the end boards, Alex Ovechkin tied his legendary former teammate with his 483rd career goal. The Great Eight did it in 476 fewer games. The fans gave Ovechkin a standing ovation for his second period tally. The Leafs scored earlier in the game, btw, but that wasn’t important for our biased and bloggy narrative.

In the third, Tom Wilson made a dumb and James Van Reimsdyk and the Leafs capitalized. It looked like the Leafs were in for a win.

But wait! In one of the most glorious moments I’ve witnessed at Verizon Center, Ovechkin, with his back to the goalie, flipped the 484th goal of his career, breaking the Fedorov’s record. It tied the game. Until it didn’t. The goal was called back on a coach’s challenge.

BUT WAIT!

Nicklas Backstrom scored with the goalie pulled and less than one second left on the clock, sending the game to three-on-three overtime and then — and apparently we still do these things — to a shootout.

Some stuff happened and then OVI WON IT! That was amazing! Caps beat Leafs, 3-2 (SO).

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Best Start Ever: Caps Top Cats 2-1 (OT)

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Boo.

Happy Halloween, y’all! While you were out dressed as Donald Trump and acting like you were the only one to come up with that idea, the Caps were playing a sloppy first period in which they registered just five shots on goal.

Early in the second, Jussi Jokinen put the Panthers on top with a ground ball up the middle, a play in Alex Petrovic got an on assist after almost having his foot chopped off by an Alex Ovechkin slapper.

First-liner Jay Beagle got the Capitals tied with a net crashing goal that was totally legal.

The game went to three-on-three overtime and Evgeny Kuznetsov got it done. Caps top Cats 2-1! Continue Reading

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Some Coach Tried to Get Braden Holtby to Change his Curve

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This is what Braden Holtby thinks Braden Holtby looks like.

There’s a new website out there called Players’ Tribune. Founded by former Yankee Derek Jeter, it aims to let players dictate things to ghostwriters reach fans without the the filter of the media. They’ve got a fill in the blank segment, which Braden Holtby (and Karl Alzner) recently participated in. Here’s what we learned.

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