ovechkin-kuznetsov-orlov

Photo: Russian Hockey Federation

Friday afternoon, Washington Capitals Russians Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov arrived safely in Moscow, home of the 2016 World Championship. Dressed from head to toe in nationalistic Team Russia gear, each Capital met with the media and talked about their disappointing finish to their NHL season.

“We are going to try to make up for the unfortunate showing in the NHL by winning the tournament and showing good hockey,” Alex Ovechkin said as translated by Igor Kleyner. “Of course it’s disappointing. But we’ll think about it later. Right now al the thoughts are about the Worlds. We will do everything to win.”

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caps-fans-jeopardy-crowd

Photo: @jp_daddi0

During Thursday night’s taping of Jeopardy!, @jp_daddi0 alerted us to some important news: there were two Capitals fans in the audience. After a contestant answered a Daily Double correctly, a Jeopardy! camera shot to the crowd, revealing a male and female fan wearing the Caps’ third jerseys. That is awesome.

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braden-holtby-miserable-me-too

Photo: Justin K. Aller

The Capitals just had their best regular season in franchise history. We thought things might be different in this year’s playoffs, yet here we are again, feeling like we just got run over by a 16 wheeler (that then put itself in reverse, backed over our still twitching bodies, put itself back in drive, and ran us over again).

Let me just spew out a few painful facts that are real, actual things. Alex Ovechkin, this generation’s greatest goal scorer, has never made it past the second round of the postseason. Barry Trotz, this season’s slam dunk Jack Adams Trophy winner, has never gotten past the second round of the postseason. The whole dang Caps franchise has not made it past the second round since 1998. On top of that, this series loss to the Penguins marks the eighth time the organization has lost to the Penguins out of nine tries, which is the worst winning percentage in the NHL among any teams that have faced off 8 times or more. These stats can straight up go to hell.

So can this chart.

I have no grand conclusions on why this season ended early for the Caps — other than they were really unlucky and not failures in any way. What I do have is a lot of random thoughts and questions, some of which are fun and some of which are miserable. Let’s review.

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ovechkin-orlov

Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

There’s still more hockey to be played for Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov. This morning, less than 12 hours after the Capitals’ season-ending loss to the Penguins, Russia announced that they were calling up the three Caps to their World Championship team.

The 2016 World Championship is being held in Saint Petersburg and Ovechkin’s hometown of Moscow.

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orpik-double-minor

Two years ago, Brian MacLellan signed Brooks Orpik to a five-year deal because of the veteran defenseman’s “leadership and experience.” Tuesday night in Game Six, the 35-year-old Orpik took a four-minute double minor penalty for high-sticking.

The Penguins scored twice on the resulting power play.

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karl-alzner-injury

Karl Alzner, one of the Capitals’ most reliable defensemen, just left Game Six with an injury. Some time before the 9:20 mark of the first period, Sidney Crosby slashed Alzner. The play looked harmless, but when Alzner returned to the bench, he cursed and left for the locker room.

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shutup-pierre-sign

During Game Two of the Caps-Pens series, two bold fans brought a sign and held it behind the glass for Pierre McGuire. The fans, Matt and Todd, started a revolution. Their sign, written in sloppy but emphatic marker, read “Shut up, Pierre.”

The internet demanded we make t-shirts, which we did. Then, a few days later, an RMNB reader had “shut up pierre” tattooed on his leg.

On Monday night, Matt and Todd, both studying for their master’s degrees, reached out to us and explain below.

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evgeny-kuznetsov-balls

Photo: Drew Hallowell

Ahead of Game Six in Pittsburgh, Evgeny Kuznetsov had something profound to say, which I’m now going to share with you.

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Justin Williams attempts a shot behind the backboard.

On Saturday night, Justin Williams scored his second goal of the postseason, going five hole on Matt Murray (this was literally a minute after Pierre McGuire praised a Murray five-hole save). The goal inspired Hall of Fame broadcaster Doc Emrick to tell a story.

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evgeny-kuznetsov-kiss

The Washington Capitals must win their next two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive. Yet, if you think the players are figuratively drowning in a sea of anxiety, you’d be wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

For example, let’s take a closer look at this post-practice interview with Jason Chimera.

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