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Alex Ovechkin loves to score goals. Afterwards, sometimes he leaps in into the glass, sometimes he does a jig, sometimes he tumbles to the ground like a building loaded with TNT. That last one happened on Sunday night after Ovi’s fortieth goal of the season.

“I think sniper was up there, shot me in foot,” Ovechkin told reporters after the game.

When I asked around the Capitals locker room at the Kettler on Monday, I was hoping the learn that Ovi’s teammates had seen the fall — or at least the replay — and had been giving Ovechkin a hard time. Troy Brouwer didn’t let me down.

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Photo credit: Christian Petersen

Coming into 2014-15, Jay Beagle had never scored more than four goals in a season. For a fourth line center, that’s fine. Under Barry Trotz, however, Beagle’s playing time has increased. When the Caps took the ice against the Leafs on Sunday, Beagle was slotted in the top-six alongside Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer. By the end of the game, Beagle was the top-line right wing, a position he has occupied many times this season.

But here’s the rub: despite a career-high nine goals and 17 points for Beagle, he brings Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom down. I love Beagle. He’s a great face-off man, a solid fourth liner, and a fantastic guy. He is not, however, qualified to play on the first line. Analytics — and the singularly important eye test — back this up. Trotz disagrees though.

“Beagle’s like my lucky charm,” Trotz told reporters when asked about the rotating right-wing spot. “When I put him up there ,we score. I know you analytics guys don’t like his numbers, but we score and get back in the game. There’s reasons for that.”

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Photo: @SergeyKocharov

It was a slushy, dreary night in the District. But inside Verizon Center, there were many happy times. Alex Ovechkin nearly had a hat trick — hilariously falling over in the making of his first goal — as the Caps defeated shutout the Maple Leafs 4-0.

But the best moment came after the game, when Barry Trotz’s son Nolan, who has Down syndrome joined his dad for his postgame press conference.

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Tim Gleason: Mike Green’s On-Ice Bodyguard

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Photo Credit: Gregg Forwerck

Hard to play against, tough customer, character guy: those were some of the hockey superlatives thrown around by Barry Trotz and his players when asked about Tim Gleason, the team’s newly acquired D-man.

“He’ll keep people honest,” Trotz told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “You want to take a shot at Greenie, he can back it up.”

Yep, despite whatever my zany Russian political science professor and Some People on the Internet say, Mike Green isn’t going anywhere.

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Steve Oleksy was only supposed be with the Caps for a day. But after Nate Schmidt’s brief sojourn to the Bears turned into a multi-month absence, Steve O is here for the foreseeable future. He just won’t be playing in many games, if any at all. Still, Oleksy has to be ready.

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

At this point, Capitals-Flyers games seem to devolve into elaborate displays of petty violence almost by habit. There’s no real point, but they do it every game. Sometimes, they even start punching faces. Last year, the Caps got into 18 fights with the Flyers, including the preseason. That accounted for a third of Washington’s fight total for the season.

“Not many guys on this side like them on that side and not many guys on that side like us,” Tom Wilson told me. “Last year there was a lot of high emotion.”

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Before this season, Evgeny Kuznetsov had only played sparingly at center in his hockey career. But with the Capitals lacking in center depth, head coach Barry Trotz has tried to convert Kuznetsov and fellow rookie Andre Burakovsky into pivots. Both struggled earlier in the year, with Burakovsky getting scratched and eventually moving back to wing. But Kuznetsov has stuck and is finally adjusting to the new role. Against the Avalanche on Monday night, Kuznetsov was an offensive force, with four shots on net, a shot off the crossbar, and a myriad of drives past the Colorado defense.

“He’s got really good vision, he’s got great hands, and he’s skating well,” Trotz said after the game. “I think his puck protection has been really good, his detail in the D-zone has been really good. You get chances, you’re gonna produce. I think he’s a very talented guy.”

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Pretty much every time the Caps face off against a team with Russians, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov hold court with their countrymen in the hallway just off the visitor’s bench.

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

Last season, the Capitals power play was one of the few things that kept the team out of the cellar, accounting for nearly one third of the team’s goals. This year, the Caps don’t stink, but their power play, run by lone coaching holdover Blaine Forsythe, has remained one of the league’s top units. But in December, as the Caps soared up the standings, their power play was impotent.

The team made a few minor changes throughout the streak, putting Mike Green back on the point and Marcus Johansson on the first unit, but it didn’t make much difference. Last month, they converted on just six of their 43 opportunities. Since the Winter Classic, however, the power play has been back on track, scoring in four of the five games the team has played in the new year.

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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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