Michal Neuvirth holds up his new mask that has Olie Kolzig painted on the side

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Over the summer, Swedish airbrush artist Dave Gunnarsson released photos of the new goalie mask he painted for Michal Neuvirth. It was a thing of beauty and something all Capitals fans could appreciate.

One side of the mask features images of Neuvirth’s hometown along with a portrait image of Czech goaltending great Jiří Holeček. On the other side there’s an action shot of Olie Kolzig, the franchise’s leader in wins, juxtaposed with the old Capitals dome logo and stars.

The gesture was not lost on Kolzig, now an associate goaltending coach for the Capitals and technically one of Neuvirth’s coaches.

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Nick Backstrom is Visiting a Specialist in Michigan

backstrom

Photo credit: khl.ru

On Tuesday morning, far-flung Caps players reunited at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for an informal practice session. Present but not skating was the team’s star center, Nick Backstrom. Backstrom has not played since late December, when he took a hit from behind in a Dynamo Moscow game. According to SportsBox.ru, a doctor in Moscow said the injury was just a bruise, but Backstrom’s agent has since said his player’s status may be week-to-week.

On Tuesday night, we learned that Backstrom is visiting a specialist in Michigan.

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Dmitry Orlov sits with the other scratches during Saturday's Bears game

Dima sits with the other Bears scratches during Saturday’s Bears game. (Photo credit: Katie Stansbery)

When Dmitry Orlov came out of the tunnel for the AHL Showcase game last month, he was excited to see fans back at Verizon Center. It was the reason why, in his opinion, he played the best hockey of his season. The AHL gamesheet says that the 21-year-old defenseman recorded two shots on goal that first period, but Dima remembered it being closer to four or five.

Unfortunately, as he confirmed to me on Saturday night during the first intermission of the Bears/Senators game, Orlov suffered an injury after absorbing a hit from Emerson Etem. Due to team policy, Orlov would not reveal the nature or location of his injury.

After spending two weeks recovering, Orlov has begun riding an exercise bike and lifting weights. According to Hershey Bears head coach Mark French, Orlov is close to getting back on the ice for practice again.

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McKayla Maroney Is Impressed By Her New Capitals Hat

McKayla Maroney and President Barack Obama not impressed with meeting each other.

Photo by Kayvon Sari (@TheAbsolomb)

Despite a prolonged lockout, there are still Washington Capitals fans out there doing brand evangelism. These people still rep their Caps fandom, no matter how much the absence of NHL hockey bums us out. Kayvon Sari is such a man.

A few days before every blog on the internet posted that photo of Barack Obama and McKayla Maroney meeting at The White House, the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions rolled into town. The tour– including the gold medal-winning Fab Five of Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber– features gymnasts pairing their talents with performance art. Following on the heels of the London Summer Olympics, the tour has sold out venues across the country.

17-year-old Kayvon Sari, a native of Bethesda and a former gymnast himself, had tickets for the show at the Verizon Center on November 12. A huge fan of Maroney, Kayvon was well aware that the smirking gymnast would be visiting Washington DC for the first time. He wanted to give her a souvenir to commemorate the visit.

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Photos by Chris Gordon

We know the Capitals have plenty of skill players, but when the team drafted Tom Wilson last month they added something else: a big, bruising forward who isn’t afraid to push people around. In the first two scrimmages of Washington’s Development Camp this week, that something was on display as the 6′ 3″, 205-pound winger bounced around the ice making a myriad of hits and occasionally jawing with prospects on the opposite team. This, it seems, is exactly what Capitals General Manager George McPhee was looking for when he took Wilson 16th overall, somewhat ahead of his projected draft slot.

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Why Tim Thomas Skipped The White House

Tim Thomas refuses to combine politics and hockey except when he’s using his hockey fame as a megaphone for his political views. Since his Random Capitalization rant on Facebook a few months back, he’s instituted a zero-tolerance policy for questions about politics, the President, or the White House– ending interviews as soon as the taboo topics come up.

No distractions. That’s Timmy’s rule. Nothing gets in the way of hockey from here on out. We admire that, but it’s a departure from the previous policy. After some late-night filings, our spies have unearthed photographic evidence of what Thomas did instead of meeting Obama in January. Yep, turns out he’s been rubbing elbows with right-wingers… and we ain’t talking about Nathan Horton.

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Joe Beninati’s Rookie Card

Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin pose with their Rookie Cards

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Way back in the eighties when trading cards were still packaged with a stick of bubble gum, a young, bright-eyed right-wing by the name of Craig Laughlin was featured on his first ever card. O-Pee-Chee, a Canadian candy company, produced the 1983-84 season set which also featured rookie cards for Scott Stevens, Phil Housley, and Brian Bellows.

Fast forward 28 years, Laughlin can now be found in the Capitals broadcast booth alongside play-by-play man Joe Beninati. The broadcast duo has been calling Capitals games together for 17 years. While the two took completely different paths to get to their current jobs, The Panini Group has now distinguished Joe B. with the same honor Laughlin received in his playing days. Yes, Joe B. now has an official trading card too. And it comes signed!

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

On Monday, there was a great deal of confusion about why the Capitals didn’t make any roster moves — after both owner and general manager expressed a desire to buy, many were left wondering why they never did. Luckily, we got an exclusive look at General Manager George McPhee’s Facebook Timeline, and we think it may shed some light on the mysterious events of February 27, the Tradeless Deadline.

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NHL All-Stars Suffering from Concussions and Head Injuries

Special thanks to Gary Bettman for letting the guys out of the Quiet Room long enough for us to snap this pic. Enlarge. (Photo illustration by Ian Oland)

The stars of the All-Star Game were a little less bright this year. Some of the familiar faces that fans expect were absent for reasons that are becoming all too familiar in the modern NHL: head injury. Approximately 85 head injuries have been reported this year, meaning that nearly ten percent of all active players have been injured. 28 of 30 teams have reported at least one head injury, while some franchises have dealt with as many six or seven. With star center Nicklas Backstrom now sitting out due to concussion, the issue has hit close to home for Caps fans.

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Alternate Cut of the Alex Ovechkin Suspension Video

Our Russian spies have infiltrated NHLHQ and recovered this alternate cut of Brendan Shanahan‘s suspension video for Alex Ovechkin. This video, archived by RMNB contributor Max Duchaine, contains several revelations about Shanahan’s mental state.

What we find is a broken man at the edge of madness, hated by all, who retreats to a lonely room to watch teen dramas and weep quietly. Do not loathe this man. Pity him.

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