EvgenyKuznetsovCar (2 of 3)

Photos by Chris Gordon

Eight games into his NHL career, Evgeny Kuznetsov is settling in. And by “settling in,” I mean living a life of luxury none of us will ever attain. First he got himself an apartment. Now he’s got himself a brand new car. The ride: a customized 2014 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG, with a base price of $140,000. It’s got 577 horsepower. That’s a lot.

Kuzya will probably spend most of his time sitting still on 66, but if you’re going to buy a mobile lounge, the new S-Class is pure and total luxury.

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Julianne Hough has been busy lately. She has announced that she will be doing a dance tour around the nation with her brother Derek. She also will be returning to Dancing With The Stars as a guest judge in two weeks.

We do not care about that. We care about Hough watching the Caps play at Verizon Center on Tuesday night (well, maybe we care; I guess this is debatable). I assume she was there to support her injured boyfriend, Brooks Laich, who recently went under the knife to repair his injured groin.

Here’s a treat: everybody’s favorite paparazzo Homer McFanboy posted this photo of Hough on the concourse, which was taken by an anonymous friend.

Here you see Julianne smiling with friends and— HEY, wait a minute. What is in her hands?

COMPUTER: ENHANCE QUADRANT PICARD LAMBDA.

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Tom Wilson Is One Of The Most Penalized Rookies Ever

Wilson has an intimate chat with Claude Giroux. (Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Well, here’s something incredible we’ve uncovered about Tom Wilson.

Playing the Florida Panthers on February 27th, Wilson’s third-period slash on Brian Campbell put him at 112 penalty minutes on the year. Those two PIMs helped Wilson overtake the teenager penalty minutes record since 2004-05.

That mark was previously held by — you’ll never guess.

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mcphee

Yo, I need to draw your attention to this quote from George McPhee, reported by Katie Carrera on Wednesday night.

“We play a system where teams get probably more shots the way we play but most of them are from the outside, we’ll allow those. In some ways that might be better for this particular goaltender.”

This is not the sort of thing a professional hockey person outside of Toronto should say. This is not a thing that any grownup with even a passing acquaintance with the concept of probability should say.

Allowing more shots is never good. Every shot carries with it a discrete chance that it could go in the net. More shots: more goals.

And the Caps don’t possess some newly discovered, sui generis ability to limit their opponents’ shot quality with reliability. If they did, we’d see it in the stats. So George McPhee should not be saying the equivalent of “We let the other guy take a crazy ton of shots because we’re the first team in hockey history that is actually magical.”

Nope, nope, nope. And Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia is evidence of the cosmic wrongness.

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8 Questions That Will Determine the Capitals’ Fate

It has been 19 days since a Caps game! Nineteen days! My memory is faltering. The names and faces are starting to blend together. Brooks Brouwer and Jason Johansson, right? No? Okay, maybe a refresher course is needed.

With 23 games left in the rego (yes, that word is sticking around) season, the Capitals sit precariously on the playoff bubble. Alex Ovechkin is blowing up nets, but the team as a whole is struggling. General manager George McPhee, rumored to be in the final year of his contract, has less than a week to improve his team before the trade deadline. Head coach Adam Oates has a wealth of information about his players that seems to be– at least partially– in conflict with how he has marshaled them thus far. And somewhere over the ocean, there’s a youngster with a visa and some unknown date circled on his calendar.

We’re going to get a lot of answers over the next few weeks. Those answers will tell us who this team truly is, so now seems like the right time to remind ourselves what the questions are.

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John Erskine’s Not-Good Weekend

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Photo: Alex Brandon

Despite his menacing stare and his even angrier-looking fists, there may be no nicer man in the Washington Capitals locker room than John Erskine. That’s why this is hard to write.

The 33-year-old Erskine, who was given a two-year $3.9 million extension from George McPhee last February, may be in the throes of his worst season ever as a pro.

The veteran defenseman — who is supposed to be a leader out on the ice — is an anchor on the Caps. His 47.2% puck possession is 3.6% worse than the team does without him. The only defensemen on the team with a lower possession scores are rookie Connor Carrick and the recently released Alexander Urbom. Erskine ranks 173rd out of the 230 defensemen with at least 25 games played when measured by corsi percentage.

Then there’s the goals. While Erskine is on the ice at even strength, 62% of the goals scored on the ice belong to the opponent. Big John also has a penalty differential of minus-9 (he’s taken nine more penalties than he’s drawn).

Then there’s the eye test, my personal favorite, which Erskine fails regularly.

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carrick

Photo: Jamie Sabau

This is going to be brutal, but it needs to be said.

The Washington Capitals are one of the worst teams in the league. This is the most frustrated I’ve been with a Capitals’ team since 2001-02, when that version of the Caps missed the playoffs despite acquiring Jaromir Jagr over the summer

I’d be more okay with the Capitals’ play this season — sometimes teams just don’t gel — if they were actually a bunch of terrible players playing terribly. But this team is loaded with a good core: a three-time MVP, one of the best centers in the game, three above-average defensemen, an above-average goaltender, and a bunch of intelligent veteran players. Unfortunately, the players in front of Braden Holtby either repeatedly make the same dumb mistakes, are too passive on defense, or are too careless with the puck.

There is no urgency with this team despite their difficult upcoming schedule and their recent seven-game losing streak. In the last two games, the Caps have given up nine goals against the Sabres and the Blue Jackets. Nine goals. Against the Buffalo freaking Sabres and the Columbus effing Blue Jackets.

Let’s review the Columbus goals. I want you to understand my pain.

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

In overtime, unless you’re a really bad hockey team or extremely good at shootous, you play to win the game. A minute and fifteen seconds into overtime, the Washington Capitals tried to do exactly that, making an aggressive play in the Carolina Hurricanes’ offensive zone to try and secure that one extra standings point.

They paid the price for it however, as Jeff Skinner scored his hat-trick game-winning goal on a jailbreak odd-man rush into the Capitals defensive zone.

Every Capital on the ice minus Philipp Grubuaer shares blame on the goal. Let’s take a look at the bad reads and bad decisions. (This is as close as we’ll ever get to a Justin Bourne Systems Analyst post.)

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A Short Timeline of Capitals Players Requesting Trades

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Photo: Greg Fiume

Two thousand thirteen has been a year of reinvigoration for the Capitals. After a dreary start to the lockout-shortened season, the team began a Cinderella-story rally in March that carried the team into the playoffs and their captain into another MVP trophy. But the last few months have revealed a Capitals team that is not uniformly happy with their spots on the team. While new coach Adam Oates has made his stars happy, a number of lower-tiered players have grown discontent. Three players have requested trades in the last six weeks.

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The Alex Ovechkin Goal That Was For Naught (GIF)

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Photo credit: Nick Wass

Late in the third period with the Washington Capitals trailing 3-2, Alex Ovechkin took a pass from Marcus Johansson in the center of the ice and fired a ridiculous snap shot towards Anaheim Ducks’ goaltender Jonas Hiller. The puck, rolling end over end, beat Hiller clean. PING.

Ovechkin raised his hands to the sky, the goal horn went off, and Caps fans celebrated yet another miracle comeback goal from their team’s captain.

But the puck never actually went in. The referee waived it off.

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