On Tuesday night, as EPIX’s The Road To The Winter Classic began, the Caps began what became the longest shootout in NHL history. The scheduling conflict forced fans to make a difficult decision: reality TV or live hockey. For those who stuck with the live hockey, they got a shootout that went a record twenty rounds, five more than the previous record, which also belonged to the Caps. Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin actually shot twice in the losing effort.

Karl Alzner, Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Tom Wilson all got their first career shootout attempts in the same game.

With all the wackiness on the ice and the game determined not to end, the Caps turned to a late-game baseball tradition to influence the outcome: rally helmets.

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Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

Since turning pro, the career of Capitals 2010 third-round draft pick Stan Galiev hasn’t gone as expected. The dynamic winger struggled with system play and never found a role with the AHL’s Hershey Bears under coaches Mark French and Mike Haviland. He spent the majority of the last two seasons with Reading in the ECHL. Last year, injuries and scratches limited him to just 30 games between the AHL and ECHL.

Despite this stunning goal in the beginning of the season, 2014-15 started as more of the same for Galiev, who has been playing in North America since 2008. Galiev was scratched in five of seven games in the opening months. But now, it seems like we may actually see a breakout year for the Russian winger.

After scoring four goals in his first 44 career AHL games, Galiev has scored three in his last three, including a game-winner against St. John’s on Sunday. Those were the only goals Hershey scored those games.

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Solid positioning here (Photo: Alex Brandon)

Would you like to play a game? Let’s call it ‘Match the Goalie.’

Those of you who read the comments in my post yesterday, don’t ruin the answer I revealed there. For those of you comfortable navigating War on Ice, don’t cheat.

Since Braden Holtby made his NHL debut on October 5, 2010, 53 goalies have played 3000+ minutes, Holtby being one of them.

Here is a table of four goalies with their 5-on-5 save percentage and where it ranks among the 53.

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Photo: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov has struggled in both adjusting to the North American game and learning the center position. To hide his deficiencies, head coach Barry Trotz has limited Kuznetsov’s ice time, banishing him to the fourth line, and even scratching him for one game (which, let’s be honest, was painful to watch).

However, with Andre Burakovsky becoming strangely mortal lately, Trotz gave Kuznetsov a promotion to the second line against the Islanders.

Kuzya delivered in a big way.

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Twenty Games In: What is the Barry Trotz Breakout?


Photo: Amanda Bowen, RRBG Photography

We are a quarter of the way through the first season of the Barry Trotz era. The process has been solid, the results have been decent, and the lineup decisions have, at times, been confusing.

Trotz is the Caps’ fourth coach since 2011, so fans are well aware that a change in coach means a change in tactics. With that in mind, I’m going to take a look at the Caps’ breakout under Trotz.

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Photo: Doug Pensinger

Hockey is a game of inches and bad bounces. Sometimes it’s the littlest and strangest things that lead to goals. In the third period on Thursday, Tom Wilson indirectly helped make Alex Ovechkin‘s highlight-reel game-winning goal happen, and dude wasn’t even on the ice.

With 6:18 left in the game, Wilson delivered what I can only call a jockstrap-jostling hit (I just made that up) to Dennis Everberg in the offensive zone. A few seconds later, the game clock was stopped when the puck was played with a high stick.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

During Thursday morning’s practice, Barry Trotz debuted new lines (again). According to The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, these are the new combos.

Ovechkin – Backstrom – Wilson
Johansson – Burakovsky – Brouwer
Chimera – Laich – Ward
O’Brien – Latta – Beagle

And the extra forwards:

Kuznetsov – Fehr – Volpatti (IR)

With Brooks Laich’s shoulder finally healed, the lines had to be juggled. It appears Caps rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov will be scratched for the first time in his career against Chicago on Friday. Eric Fehr will join him in the press box, scratched for the second straight game.

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Photo: Chris O’Meara

Skating in his second game of the season on Saturday, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson looked to make an impact in any way he could. That included getting in his first fight of the season with Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas after Eric Fehr crashed into Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Gudas skated towards Fehr, and Wilson was having none of that.

They dropped the gloves. Boys will be boys. Willy Baby unleashed one vicious punch that connected early in the fight. Gudas, who doesn’t wear a face shield (this is important for later), then skated off the ice and went to the locker room.

When Gudas came back to the Lightning bench, he was wearing a full cage.

Good question. I looked back on the action and this is what I figured out.

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Sometimes the most captivating television comes from surprising places. Like, forget putting the twins in a room and forcing them to be funny, just take a camera man along with Caps color guy Craig Laughlin as he goes anywhere. To the grocery store. To the bathroom. Doesn’t really matter where.

That’s what CSN did on Saturday. During the first intermission of the Caps-Flames game, CSN aired a two-minute segment of Locker traveling up to a Calgary mountain top. Sounds simple, but it was a laugh riot.

In the car trip over, Laughlin told the story of him getting drafted and finding out from his father the next morning. Then he got in a cable car to go up the mountain, and that’s when things got really wacky.

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Graphic via the Washington Capitals

On Monday morning, the Washington Capitals published an article re-promoting the Winter Classic press conference they will host at Nats Park Tuesday at noon. The Capitals will reveal their new Winter Classic jerseys while commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA leader Don Fehr, and Caps owner Ted Leonsis speak to the media.

In the article, the Caps embed no photos, but when I looked on Facebook I noticed the team uploaded a simplified 2015 Winter Classic logo image to go along with the article.

And there was one thing that immediately stuck out to me: THERE’S TAN, YOU GUYS.

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