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A Boston writer named Michael Hurley wrote an article about how Alex Ovechkin‘s plus-minus rating is really bad and therefore Alex Ovechkin is really bad. I’m going to link to it here because that’s the responsible thing to do, but please don’t read it. Hurley, who actually gets paid for this dreck, goes through some half-hearted apologia for plus-minus (“As everyone knows, plus-minus is a greatly flawed stat”), and then he uses it as the centerpiece of his argument (“Still, it’s not completely meaningless, as some would like you to believe.”)

He also uses a GIF as part of his proof. You know which one.

So, real quick, I’m just gonna bust out a couple reasons why a) Alex Ovechkin’s plus-minus is low, b) plus-minus is not an indicator of talent, and c) Michael Hurley’s column is bad and he should feel bad.

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Brooks Laich Got Groin Surgery, Shut Down For Season

Photo: Chris Gordon

The Washington Capitals have announced that Brooks Laich has undergone surgery to alleviate his ongoing groin problems. His recovery is expected to take 4-6 weeks, effectively ending his 2013-14 season.

Laich’s injury has been nagging for over two years, costing him most of last season and portions of this one. Last week, Laich met with groin specialist Michael Brunt in St. Louis.

He did not travel with the team to California.

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GIFs by Ian Oland, who is looking up spandex unitards on Amazon.com right now.

With a 3-1 lead at the first intermission, the Washington Capitals had a terrific start to Sunday’s game against the Leafs. Then stuff started going wrong. The Caps hardly had the puck in the second and let their two-goal lead slip away when Dion Phaneuf snuck a puck through traffic. The disorder wasn’t limited to the players either; Craig Laughlin had struggles of his own.

With ten minutes left in the game, Troy Brouwer laid a hit on Paul Ranger on neutral ice, sending the latter into Laughlin’s nest between the benches. The collision knocked Laughlin’s telestrator off its perch.

“Watch out, Locker!”  Joe B said.

“Down goes my telestrator. It’s down and out,” replied Locker.

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Caps beat Leafs 4-2! Next Up: California!

Evan Vucci

Photo: Evan Vucci

I hate St. Patrick’s Day. My family is Irish as Feakle and I like Irish writing and the Corrs and stuff, but I hate leprechauns and boiled potatoes and corned beef. I was really hoping Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs would be a short reprieve from the holiday and a happy kickoff to a huge week on the road for a Caps team barely holding on to playoff hopes. While we got a fantastic first period out of the home team, the rest of the game was a little dreary. Like Ireland.

The Caps came out literally on fire. Troy Brouwer got his 19th of the year from right up front. Jason Chimera kicked in yet another goal for his line with Fehr and Ward. And then Ward nailed a layup set up by Kuzya and Penner. The Leafs got one before the period was up– a lucky bounce into the slot and onto Troy Bodie’s stick–  but it was a dominant twenty minutes for the home team.

The second was the opposite. Dion Phaneuf released a long bomb that snuck through the top line and Orlov-Carrick pairing. Then the Leafs got three consecutive power plays that the Caps desperately killed off.

The Caps survived the third and shut down the Leafs’ comeback attempt when Jason Chimera drew a penalty on a breakaway. Troy Brouwer got the empty netter.

Caps beat Leafs 4-2!

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Week 22 Snapshot: Wagons West!

Nick Wass

Photo: Nick Wass

For the second week in a row, the Capitals took just two standings points out of a possible six. The Caps are three points behind Philly for the wild-card spot, but Philly has two extra games holstered. Sports Club Stats puts the Caps’ chances of making the playoffs at 8.1%. For them to have a chance, they’d basically have to play like the best team in the league from here on out.

It doesn’t look good.

And then there’s the small matter of California. After Sunday’s date with the Leafs, the Caps go west. The way of Horatio Alger, Davy Crockett, the Donner Party for games against the Ducks, the Kings, and the Sharks. Wuh oh.

I’m trying over here to find a positive spin to put on the numbers, but I’m thinking if you’re looking for solace you might want to look elsewhere. I promise to keep this short and mildly interesting.

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Peter Talkin’ Puck on Toronto Maple Leafs Hotstove

The fine gentlemen at Toronto Maple Leafs Hot Stove have invited me to join them again. We’ll be getting you prepped for Sunday’s game between the Leafs and the Caps. I bet we’ll be talking Kuznetsov and Grabovski and stuff at some point. Tune in and enjoy. I promise I won’t look like an Oompa Loompa like last time.

(Hopefully Georgia won’t ruin it.)

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Kuznetrick! Caps beat Canucks 4-3

Nick Wass

Photo: Nick Wass

The Washington Capitals have been taking it on the chin since the Olympic break. Friday’s game against the similarly struggling Vancouver Canucks was a primo opportunity to save face and play some thick and proud Caps hockey. Plus, the new guy was freaking superb.

The third line opened it up with a terrific shift. Eric Fehr drove the puck, but got bounced away by Eddie Lack. Luckily, Jason Chimera served it up to Joel Ward, who scored on his second swing. Jordan Schroeder tied it up for the Canucks on a broken play.

In the second, Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his first career NHL point on an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot and then set up Tom Wilson via a glorious slap pass to give the Caps a dreaded two-goal lead.

Shawn Matthias and Nicklas Jensen tied it up in the third– erasing the Caps’ 12th two-goal lead of the season. No matter. Mike Green found the net three minutes later, set up by some nifty behind-the-net moves by Backstrom and Kuznetsov. Alexandre Burrows rang post with eight minutes left but found no twine.

Caps beat Canucks 4-3.

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rmnb-party-6

October 30, 1993. It was a Saturday. Clinton was President. Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover” was in its final day as the number one song in the country. (Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love” would take over the next day.) Fox TV had just entered its first year broadcasting every day, airing The X-Files just one night earlier (a pretty meh episode if you ask me). That “Got Milk?” commercial with the guy with peanut-butter mouth aired for the first time a night before. The Nightmare Before Christmas had just debuted in theaters and Tim Burton had already begun hoarding credit. River Phoenix died.

And the Washington Capitals beat the Sharks for the last time in San Jose.

On Saturday, March 22nd, the Capitals will return to San Jose hoping to snap their 21-year slump. And we’ll be watching from RFD Washington. Won’t you join us?

That’s right: At long last, here comes #RMNBParty6!

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Nick Backstrom is Gonna Get That Silver Medal After All

BackstromKettler

The scourge of performance-enhancing allergy medicine be darned, the International Olympic Committee Disciplinary Commission has decided to award Nick Backstrom his silver medal (PDF).

As you recall, Backstrom was prohibited from playing in the gold-medal game two hours before puck drop due to the results of a urine test four days earlier. The test showed that Backstrom’s urine contained more pseudoephedrine than was acceptable. Sweden lost the gold medal game to Canada, and Backstrom’s medal status was in question until like just now.

Here’s to consolation prizes.

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Tom Poti - Jim McIsaac

Photo: Jim McIsaac

Tom Poti‘s NHL career ended inauspiciously in March of last year. A persistent groin injury kept him off the ice for all of 2011-12 before an abbreviated, 16-game comeback in 2012-13 spelled the end of his time with the Washington Capitals. “I still have that hunger to play and I still have that desire,” Poti told the Washington Times that May, “and I definitely want to play as long as I can.”

While his future has not included more NHL action, Poti is still on the ice and still doing good. This time he’s suiting up to face off against the USA Warriors, the sled and standing hockey teams made of wounded and injured American servicemen and women. On April 9, Poti and a team of US Olympians will play against the Warriors at UMass Lowell. The charity game will pit some of the most accomplished and impressive athletes in the country — against former Olympians.

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