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Photo: Capital Hill’s @md_dc

Saturday morning was a time for ceremonial hockey hardware to be awarded. Team Finland beat John Carlson and the US to take home the Bronze Medal in Sochi. Also, Troy Brouwer received some ridiculous 100 balloons from the Brouwer Rangers. About that last thing: on February 8, Brouwer netted his 100th NHL with an empty netter against the New Jersey Devils. With the Caps back from the Olympic break, Troy’s fan club presented him with his gift.

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Oh my. (Photo: US Weekly)

Oh my. (Photo: US Weekly)

Photo: Daily Mail

Editors’ note: No, we won’t be writing endless stories about the Brooks Laich-Julianne Hough (Brough? Broolianne?) romance, but we hope you’ll agree that it’s notable how the international celebrity press has turned its gaze towards a usually shy Caps player.

When paparazzi photos first surfaced of Brooks Laich, the Caps’ resident heartthrob, with Julianne Hough, As Seen on TV, the initial reaction was something along the lines of lol how. In his weekly hit with 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies, Brooks tried to alleviate your lol hows.

“To be honest, I had never seen an episode of Dancing With The Stars,” Laich said in an somewhat awkward interview with the station, referring to Julianne’s role on the program. “But in my defense, she had never seen a Caps game either until she met Teddy.”

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RMNB on CRL: Inside Joe B’s Suit of the Night

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We’ve let Ian have the fun long enough. He’s played video games with Tom Wilson and poured “wine” over his head with Olie Kolzig. For Russian Machine’s third CRL segment, I was determined to bring some respectability back to the blog. And what’s more respectable than a four figure suit.

As you guys know, we’ve been tracking Joe B.’s suit of the night for years. We have an unhealthy obsession with how the guy looks. Thankfully, Joe B. wasn’t creeped out too much.

Two weeks ago, I joined Beninati and Alan May at DePandi, his tailor’s shop in Chevy Chase. Joe B. brought along a number of his favorite suits to show us, as well as a few to try on me. Yeah, I got dressed by Joe Beninati. Be jealous.

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John Carlson Has a Patriotic Olympic Stick Too (Photos)

CarlsonUSA

Photo: Jayne Kamin

If there’s one thing about the Olympics (other than massive rights fees), it’s all the custom swag participants get. I’d become a cross-country sprinter if it meant getting free Russian flag skis.

The practice also extends to hockey. We’ve already seen Alex Ovechkin‘s majestic Russian flag skates and sticks made custom for Sochi.

But there’s a another Cap rocking another red, white, and blue: John Carlson. Seems like he’s brought his own American flag-branded sticks to the Games. I first saw these in the locker room at Verizon Center, but was unable to snap a picture before the equipment dudes packed up the gear. Now we’ve got photos of Carlson putting the sticks to work at Team USA’s practice on Tuesday.

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Photo: Evan Vucci

Martin Erat has played on every line for the Washington Capitals. He’s seen power play time and PK minutes. And, of course, he’s sat in the press box. Playing on the first line Saturday, in his 51st game this season, Erat finally scored a goal. Fittingly, it came without a goalie in the net.

“Finally, the one is in the net,” Erat told the gathering of Caps reporters, who had reentered the Capitals locker room after Adam Oates ended his press conference just to talk to him.

Erat’s time in DC, as we all know, has been ill-fated. Traded for a top prospect in Filip Forsberg last season, he asked to leave eight months later after being placed on the fourth line by Oates. With Brooks Laich back in the lineup after missing almost all of last year, Oates didn’t see much of a need for Erat, who, for the first time in the veteran’s career, was made healthy scratch.

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Photo: Patrick Smith

On Thursday night, the Capitals registered an important pair of points against the streaking Winnipeg Jets. The game wasn’t the only big event. Eight Olympians from the Jets and Caps were honored in a pre-game ceremony. It was capped off with U.S. Secretary of State dropping the puck between Team USA’s Blake Wheeler and John Carlson. With the Olympics already underway, Carlson talked about the experience and his thoughts on Sochi after the game.

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RMNB Talks to Secretary of State John Kerry

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Bros. (Photo: James Heuser)

Bros. (Photo: James Heuser)

Kerry stands at attention during the Star-Spangled Banner. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

In DC, hockey seems to be all but forgotten. Not by the residents, but by many of those who come here to govern. Capitol Hill is filled with baseball and football fans, and President Barack Obama is an enthusiastic basketball fan.

A few, though, like to lace up the skates. Until he was named America’s 68th Secretary of State last year, the annual lawmakers versus lobbyists hockey game was headlined by John Kerry, a former Yale University hockey player and senator from Massachusetts. The former Democratic nominee for president appeared at the State of the Union in 2012 with two black eyes and a broken nose, injuries he sustained in a pickup hockey game.

With the Sochi games kicking off earlier in the day, Secretary Kerry, a massive Bruins fan, visited Verizon Center to wish the eight Olympic athletes from the Jets and Caps well.

Before dropping the puck between Team USA’s Blake Wheeler and John Carlson, Secretary Kerry addressed the Capitals locker room. He also talked to RMNB in a one-on-one interview. Yeah, we’re surprised too.

Check out my conversation with the Secretary of State:

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The third line celebrates Chimera's goal.

The third line celebrates Chimera’s goal. (Photo: Greg Fiume)

Photo: Patrick McDermott

After Alex Ovechkin the Capitals goal scoring list takes a dip. Coming into Sunday’s game, Ovi had 38 goals. Joel Ward, the second-leading scorer, had 15. Ward continues to do his part. The 33-year-old added three more points to a remarkable season, scoring twice and assisting once in Washington’s 5-4 6-5 victory over Detroit.

“Since last year we’ve asked him to play more involved,” Caps coach Adam Oates said after the game. “He’s a good hockey player. He can’t just come to the rink and be complacent that ‘Oh, I’m gonna play third-line minutes and do the job.’ No. We need production. We need you to help the other guys out. … We need you to be a goal scoring threat.”

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The hit that injuried Green. (Photo: Jamie Sabau)

Injuries could sink the Washington Capitals. Just as they started to bounce back from the seven game losing streak, three players have been forced from the lineup.

First, Mikhail Grabovski twisted his ankle when he was hauled down in the crease. There’s no timetable for his return and he isn’t traveling with the team.

Next, Mike Green got hit up high by Boone Jenner in the second period on Thursday. Green’s head was slammed violently into the end boards. He appeared shaken and didn’t return to the game. Green missed Friday’s contest in Detroit.

Finally, Brooks Laich was shut down in the third period on Friday after his groin “was getting a little tight,” according to head coach Adam Oates. That’s bad news for Brooks, who missed almost all of last season with the injury. The forward claimed they had finally found the cause, but after missed practices and now missed game time, that’s clearly not the case.

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Alex Ovechkin: “I Was Today Worst Player”

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Photo: Greg Bartram

After winning two straight games against weak teams, the Capitals returned to their losing ways on Thursday with a 5-2 defeat to Columbus. That means we’re in for another edition of Depressing Postgame Quotes.

Alex Ovechkin, in particular, took a hit against the Blue Jackets. The league’s leading scorer was on the ice for all five Columbus goals, with Ovi’s critics salivating at his minus-five.

“I was today bad out there,” Ovechkin told reporters after the game. “Blame on me. It’s not about Jojo, Carly, or Holts. I can’t play like that.”

“I feel bad for my team because I have to lead by example, but today I was worst guy,” the captain added.

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