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Photo credit: J Pat Carter

Less than twenty minutes into the contest between the Washington Capitals and the Florida Panthers, the Caps’ big trade deadline acquisition, veteran winger Martin Erat, went awkwardly into the boards courtesy of a reckless shove by hulking young defenseman Eric Gudbranson. A few anxious seconds later, Caps fans were holding their breath as Marty was helped off the ice by his teammates, clearly favoring his right leg. Later on, the team referred to it as a “lower body injury.” Nothing to be happy about, of course, but it could have been so much worse, especially given Erat’s extensive concussion history.

“Wait! What concussion history?,” you may ask, and rightfully so. After all, Marty has been an NHLer for over a decade, and in all that time the Nashville Predators (his team since his debut in 2003) released exactly zero statements mentioning Martin Erat having a concussion. The ubiquitous “upper body injury” appears numerous times, but never a concussion. In fact, a Google search for “Martin Erat concussion” yields references to just one suspected case – an injury Erat suffered during the last World Championship. So, no worries then, right?

But what if someone actually asked Marty? Because someone did.

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When the Washington Capitals used their 1st round draft pick to select Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, his puck skills and potential as a future NHL star were already recognized by the hockey world. His off-ice talents were not nearly as well known. Since he became a Capitals prospect, RMNB has been bringing our readers attention to Zhenya’s dabbling in areas as diverse as real estate and pop singing. And now we present to you Evgeny Kuznetsov, the sitcom star.

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Orlov returns! (Photo credit: Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s Tim Stough)

Playing at Verizon Center on December 6th, an unfriendly shoulder was planted under Dmitry Orlov‘s chin, resulting in an upper body injury that would keep him away from the game he loves for the next three months.

On Saturday night, Orlov was finally back in action– playing for the Hershey Bears against the Norfolk Admirals. Less than a minute into the game, Orlov hoisted the puck over the glass, earning a delay-of-game penalty. Not the start he was loooking for, but — as he tells RMNB- Orlov was just happy to be back in action.

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Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth

UPDATE: Jason Guarente of the Reading Eagles reports that Galiev is expected to be reassigned to Hershey Thursday.

Early on Wednesday, the Hershey Bears assigned Stanislav Galiev — third round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — to ECHL affiliate Reading Royals. The rookie’s demotion may come as a surprise to many – as just a couple of months ago the young Russian was rated at #29 on Hockey Prospectus Top 100 Prospects list. But to those who follow the Bears hockey regularly, the move makes sense. Since the AHL season started, Stan’s struggled to adjust his game to the pro level.

As the Bears were preparing to face the visiting St. John’s Ice Caps on Saturday, RMNB found the usually gregarious and easygoing Stan in a subdued mood. After recording just one assist in the first eight games of the season, Galiev found himself in Adam Oates’ doghouse as a healthy scratch for three of the next four games — despite scoring the game-winning shootout goal for the Bears on November 2nd. Stan talked to us about his bumpy transition away from the QJMHL, being coached by a Hall of Famer, and his search for confidence on the ice.

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Photo credit: Sovetsky Sport

Last week, former Washington Capital Alex Semin settled on his lockout destination, surprising everyone by choosing Sokol Krasnoyarsk, a minor league team from his hometown. “When I was leaving for the NHL, I dreamed that if there is ever a decent team and an opportunity, I would definitely play in front of my local fans,” Semin explained during his introductory press conference. “And my (90-year-old) grandma hasn’t seen me play in person for awhile. I’ll give her a present.”

It was only a matter of time before the big guns of the Russian hockey media showed up in Krasnoyarsk, far from a hockey hotbed, to get the full story on why Semin came home. For their trouble, Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport and Alexander Rozhkov of Championat.com got personal tours of the city from Sasha on the eve of his debut in the VHL. Semin showed them the rink where he learned to skate, his school, and the apartment building where he grew up.

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Alex Semin: “I’m Waiting For July 1st”

Photo credit: Maria Ananova

After winning gold at the IIHF World Championships in Sweden, soon-to-be UFA Alexander Semin met the media in his hometown Krasnoyarsk. It was actually take two for the press conference, as Sasha had slept through the appointment the previous day, missing it altogether. He didn’t answer his mobile phone when the press tried to track him down, but did answer his house phone eventually, just to say that he had overslept and would not be coming.

Today he apologized, blaming jet lag, and then got down to answering questions. Sport-Express’ Dmitry Uskov transcribed the entire press conference, where Semin talked about whether Ovechkin would be visiting him, whether the KHL is an option for him this summer, and his plans for the future.

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Photo credit: Greg Flume

The final day of media availability is often referred to by reporters as the longest day of the year — and probably the least enjoyable. The news about Dale Hunter deciding to go back to his digs in London created a lot of buzz, and stories were told– like about how Jay Beagle tried to put his skates on over his swollen, broken foot before Game Six. But the general mood was one of somber –- not surprising, given how close the team came to Eastern Conference Finals.

The Capitals have a handful of free agents to deal with during this offseason, but none of them are as high-profile or as controversial as Alexander Semin. Will he bolt for the riches of the KHL, sign with another NHL team –- or return to the Capitals? I didn’t expect a straight answer to the question, so we just talked about… well, whatever he wanted. That includes Hunter hockey vs. Boudreau’s open style, the success of Braden Holtby, and his ice time.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

As I was wrapping up my chat with Alex Semin just outside Caps locker room at Kettler last Sunday, Dmitry Orlov was just coming off the ice.

While it is official RMNB policy that any time is a good time to interview Dima, I was a bit hesitant to put my recorder in the young Caps defenseman’s face. After all, anybody can understand how frustrating it must be for Dmitry to fulfill his dream of becoming an NHL player — and then to find himself firmly planted in the press box for the duration of the team’s playoff run, even after playing in all but a handful of regular season games since he was called up in late November.

Luckily for me, Dima came to my rescue by initiating the conversation himself. “Come on, interview me,” he said with a wry, but welcoming smile. “I am a forgotten man now. I am not playing, so nobody wants to talk to me!” I didn’t need to be asked twice.

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Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Google “enigmatic hockey player,” and your search results will likely be dominated by references to a certain Russian winger of the Washington Capitals –- not the team captain and perennial All-Star Alex Ovechkin, but rather his compatriot Alexander Semin.

Nobody ever accused The Other Alex of lacking the talent to play the game at the highest level, but he does have a reputation for running hot and cold. It’s no wonder no one ever knows exactly what to expect from the twenty-eight-year-old Sibiryak — even though he is currently the longest-serving member of the Capitals. It certainly doesn’t help that the last time you read an interview with Alexander Semin was– well… let’s just say a long time ago.

In an attempt to make a small dent in the shroud of mystery surrounding the Capitals winger, RMNB caught up with Semin at Kettler shortly after Capitals practice on Sunday. Sasha talked to us about playing the new defensive system, compared the two All-Star goalies the Caps have faced in this year Stanley Cup playoffs, and shared his thoughts on the upcoming 10th anniversary of being drafted by the Capitals.

And did he ever want to be an astronaut, just like Ilya Bryzgalov? Read on!

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Orlov and other Caps scratches look on from the press box. (Photo credit: Clydeorama)

It’s been a season of unexpected trials and disappointments for the Washington Capitals, but if there’s been one pleasant surprise, it’s been Dmitry Orlov. The young defenseman was not expected to make a permanent impact with the club this season, but after being called up on an emergency basis early in the year, Orlov simply earned his keep, becoming a mainstay even on a roster that frequently had defensemen to spare. Orlov has yet to play in the postseason, with the coaching staff so far relying on more experienced players to man the blueline, but if the Caps manage to make it past the first round, he may just get his chance.

Before the playoffs began, Orlov talked with Hockey World’s Andrey Osadchenko about about Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and his unexpected breakthrough year. I provide a translation below.

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