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Photo: @m0tar

On Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche held their fan appreciation night at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Just like the Capitals, each Avs player gave the jersey off his back to one adoring fan.

After making 30 saves in 65 minutes of work (plus a shootout), a very tired Semyon Varlamov was the first to give his jersey away.

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[Editor's note: We're not writing about this topic to invite a debate on Barack Obama's presidency or the politics of Crimea. This article is about hockey. Kind of. It's also about Miley Cyrus.]

In March, Vladimir Putin sent troops into the Crimea. His stated motive was to protect the mostly Russian population there from unrest. A few days later, the Crimean parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. Putin then claimed Crimea as part of Russia on moral and material grounds, citing the principle of self-determination and Crimea’s strategic importance for Russia or some ish like that.

Lots of world leaders were pretty pissed about this, judging by the non-binding UN resolution (100 of 193 in favor) that declared Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum invalid a few days later. Then the United States decided to show just how pissed they were by sanctioning Vladimir Putin and all his boyz.

Those of us who watch the news every night and consider ourselves informed knew all of this already. What we didn’t know is who exactly got sanctioned, why they got sanctioned, and why those sanctions matter to us. Thanks to Jennifer M. Smith (whom we had the pleasure of meeting at RMNB Party 6) and her co-workers at the Stewart & Stewart law firm, we have learned that some of the people sanctioned are deeply involved in the Russian hockey league, the KHL. Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, president of Alex Ovechkin’s former KHL team Dynamo Moscow, has been sanctioned by the United States for being Putin’s former judo partner and a member of his inner circle.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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ovechkin-shot-ouch

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has one of the hardest shots in the NHL. Usually the pucks Ovi shoots hit the back of the net. But sometimes they don’t — especially due the huge curve he has on his stick — and those wild pucks can do some serious damage.

That’s what happened on Saturday night against the Isles, when Ovi’s shot eluded Evgeni Nabokov, rang off the post, and hit defenseman Calvin de Haan square in the chest.

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kuznetsov-goal-islanders

Photo: Kathy Kmonicek

Sometimes Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson struggles to finish in front of the net. Example: last night in the third period against the New Jersey Devils where Mojo , wide open in the crease, hit Cory Schneider right in the pads instead of lifting the puck up and over. The Capitals would lose 2-1.

The next day, Mojo flubbed another easy goal, but this time against the New York Islanders. No worries. Evgeny Kuznetsov cleaned up his mess.

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so-caps

This is so Capitals.

All season long, the Washington Capitals have had recurring momentary lapses in judgement in which they forget how to hockey. That’s why the Caps won’t be making the playoffs for the first time in six years, and now I’ve got a drinking problem.

On Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, Mike Green and Jason Chimera illustrated how to do the worst breakout ever. Instead of establishing possession and exiting the defensive zone, they crashed into each other full speed right in front of their own goal.

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Alex Ovechkin Scores 49th Goal of the Year (GIF)

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Photo: Julio Cortez

Over the last two days, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has become hockey’s version of a human piñata. The reason why the mainstream media has figuratively flogged Ovechkin with its bat full of angry pixels: Ovi gave up on a play that led to a Dallas Stars goal. It was already 3-0 and there were three defenders in the D-zone. Deal with it. Head coach Adam Oates didn’t help matters much on Wednesday when he said that Ovechkin “quit” on the play.

Since then, life as a Caps fan has been nothing short of depressing. On Friday, however, things got a bit back to normal in the first period.

After being reunited with Nicklas Backstrom for the first time since the mid-80′s, Ovechkin scored his first even strength goal… also since the mid-80′s.

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oates-points

Photo: Geoff Burke

After one of the most successful West Coast road trips in franchise history, the Washington Capitals lost four straight games — three of which at home.  They’ve been outscored 16-9 during the losing streak. On April fools day, the Capitals, still in the thick of the Eastern Conference wildcard chase, played one of their most pathetic games of the year, a 5-0 blowout loss to the Dallas Stars.

It wasn’t so much that the Capitals lost, it was how listless they played considering the stakes.

When looking back at that game, it’s obvious this team is not focused. When the players hit the ice, they wilted under the adversity.

Consider warm-ups. Normally the starting goaltender leads the Caps out onto the ice. On that night, Russian rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov came out first with Ovi right behind him. A few seconds later, the rest of the team followed. According to 106.7 The Fan’s Sky Kerstein, “it looked like Ovi pranked Kuzya.”

I’ve got no idea if something silly like that has any effect on a team, but it doesn’t look good in hindsight. Even worse because it comes from the captain of the team.

During the actual game, the Capitals were a mess. They gave up two consecutive breakaways on a power play. They let the Stars score twice within 34 seconds, including a 2-on-0 breakaway by a 41-year-old. On Dallas’s fourth salvo of the night, Ovechkin quit on the play.

Head coach Adam Oates has faced difficult questions about his coaching style recently. Is that style still working? How does he motivates his players behind closed doors?

While the mainstream media has focused its attention on Oates’ honest comments about Ovechkin, there was much, much more to those interviews. Below is a summary of what I found most interesting.

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In Narrative Land, the biggest story in the hockey world today was Adam Oates calling out Alex Ovechkin for quitting on the play that resulted in a third period goal for the Dallas Stars. But c’mon, it was already 3-0 at that point. How much would one more goal hurt? Other than, ya know, emotionally.

The hockey media went all out covering the living ish out of this quote. How would Ovechkin react to being literally thrown under a literal bus by his head coach? By driving his six-figure price-tag car to Georgetown and shopping at the Nike Store with his two Russian bros.

So I guess Ovi’s not exactly devastated by his coach’s heel turn.

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why3

Photo: Patrick Smith

When the Washington Capitals gave up two straight breakaways to the Dallas Stars while on their own power play last night, I thought that was rock bottom.

Nope.

Rock bottom was Dustin Jeffrey‘s second period goal. The tally, which came 34 seconds after Ryan Whitney’s 2-on-0 goal on a botched Capitals line change, gave the Dallas Stars a 3-0 lead. It essentially ended the game.

The defense on the goal was atrocious. I’d waste my time or yours with a description. The screenshots and video say everything.

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joe-b-espnu

Photo: @bwillgress

The last three Washington Capitals game broadcasts have been different. They’ve been missing the finely dressed Joe Beninati, who has been the team’s play-by-play man for HTS/CSN Washington since 1994.

Beninati was last seen on television on Friday, when he was covering the NCAA Hockey Midwest Regional for ESPNU in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“We had two semifinal games [to call on] Friday,” Beninati told me by email. “On Friday afternoon before the games began, I felt like my voice was weakening with laryngitis. I called both games and by the time I finished those six hours on air, my voice was shot.”

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