The Flyers are a Threat to the Capitals

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Rob Vollman is a leading voice in hockey analysis. He invented players usage charts and has written for NHL.com and ESPN Insider. His new book, Stat Shot, is available for pre-order and you can get Hockey Abstract (and the 2015 update) now.

After a dominant season, expectations are that the Washington Capitals will defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in their Eastern Conference First Round series in short order, but this may prove to be the tightest series in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Photo: @lo_web7

Tom Wilson is a cool dude, and we got another example of that from reader Lauren W. During the Caps recent road swing in Los Angeles, Lauren and her family went to Staples Center for the game.

I’ll let Lauren take it from here.

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Is Tom Wilson a Bust?

Tom Wilson at development camp

Photo: Chris Gordon

Myan Tran is a long-time RMNB reader. She writes from Northern Virginia to settle an argument we’ve been waging among ourselves for months.

A lot has been said about whether Tom Wilson has reached or will ever reach the potential expected of a first-round draft pick. When we start talking about whether Tom Wilson is a “bust” in comparison to his peers, the conversation always turns into “well, what is a bust and who are his peers?” We’ll talk about what a “bust” is later.

First, let’s talk about who Tom’s peers are.

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Photo: Jess Hall

Seemingly every NHL team gives away some type of postgame award to name their player of the night. Last year, the Caps gave away a ridiculous Abe Lincoln beard and top hat to the teammate they deemed played the most honest game. Other NHL teams give away ugly jackets, broadway hats, or WWE-style championships belts. Then there’s the weird ol’ Florida Panthers who this year have been giving away a Kevin Spacey-in-space hoodie.

Last week, Spacey came to an actual Panthers game wearing the hoodie honoring himself. That fun night inspired one creative couple to make a Caps version of the sweatshirt. I’ll let Jess Hall explain.

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Should Nicklas Backstrom Win the Selke?

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Spenser Smallwood writes about the Caps for Along the Boards. We’re excited to have him to help out here on RMNB. Please give him a warm welcome and follow him on Twitter.

For the last two years, the Selke vote has been somewhat predictable. Patrice Bergeron has taken home the trophy, and Jonathan Toews, David Backes, and Anze Kopitar have finished as the other top four vote-getters. Last year, Nicklas Backstom finished 11th in voting, his first time in the top twenty. It may be unlikely that Backstrom amasses enough votes to take the trophy this season either, but that hasn’t stopped Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz’s drum-banging regarding Backstrom’s defensive prowess.

He might be right.

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Eric Rigsby is a beer leaguer in the Old Fat Bald Guys Hockey League, a former college player, and a USA Hockey Level 4 certified coach who has worked with 8U mites for the last three years and coached skills development for over 15 years. He writes from Frederick.

On February 12, House Bill 1424 entitled “Regulation of Youth Sports – Ice Hockey Clubs – Noncontact League” was introduced and read in the Maryland House of Delegates. It was sponsored by delegates Angela Angel (Dem District 25), Joseline Pena-Melnyk (Dem District 21), Ben Barnes (Dem District 21), Barbara Frush, (Dem District 21), Carlos Sanchez (Dem District 47B), and James Tarlau (Dem District 47A); all delegates primarily representing Prince George’s County. The general idea is that any youth ice hockey club operating in Maryland must offer a “non-contact” option for all age groups and skill levels where there is “full contact.”

At first glance, this is outrageous and sounds like the Maryland government is trying to take hitting out of hockey. However, if you’re involved in youth hockey at any level, you will quickly realize why this legislation isn’t necessary and that these matters should continue to be addressed by USA Hockey and its sanctioned clubs.

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Mike Richards had his biggest night as a Capital Monday, scoring the game-winning goal in Washington’s 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The two-time Stanley Cup champion received a roaring standing ovation from the Verizon Center crowd, a gesture that made Richie emotional postgame.

“It was nice,” Richards said. “It’s been a while since I scored a goal so it’s definitely nice. Thank you.”

But Richards didn’t stop there. As he walked down the tunnel toward the locker room, Richards noticed a kid wearing his number ten Caps jersey. He reached up and gave the young Caps fan the stick he scored the game-winning goal with. The kid’s reaction was priceless.

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The St. John’s College High School’s girls hockey club will play Academy of the Holy Cross on Verizon Center ice on Monday, February 22 at 3 PM. The game is SJC’s big chance to establish a real women’s varsity team. SJC player and student Sabrina L. writes:

Up until this past November, my school, St. John’s College High School has only had a boys/co-ed hockey team. It was really only co-ed when the occasional girl would try out. We were lucky that our coach, Paul Wardour, started up a girls club team when his daughter started going to St. John’s this past fall. The team officially started mid-November with very few girls as fall sports were in playoffs. As volleyball and field hockey ended, we gained almost 10 more people including a goalie.

Many of us, myself included, had no real hockey experience outside of our love for the sport. Some of us had never even skated before. At the beginning of the season, we would come off the ice covered in snow and the few players who had been playing for years would be the only ones with shots on goal. Two months later and almost everybody has a shot on goal, people scored or assisted for the first time ever, and we are much better skaters. We’ve worked very hard to get to where we are and Coach Paul Wardour, Coach John Benziger, Coach Jake Caldwell, and Coach Miles Hamilton are to thank for that.

We all love our team, our school, and we love our program, but right now we’re paying for most of our ice time and transportation. We are technically a “club” and not part of the St. John’s Athletic Department. We are hoping that this season earns us funding from our athletic budget and then we don’t have to pay for everything. This would make us a varsity sport.

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Photo: Abbi F.

After the Caps’ 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, long-time RMNB reader Abbi F. shared with us a fun story from the game. Sunday was her 16th birthday so she decided to make a sign in the hopes she might get a puck. And to the surprise of no one, Tom Wilson came through in the clutch (even though he was forced to try multiple times).

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This guest post comes to us from RMNB reader Russell Kay, who planned one heck of a surprise at the Caps’ home game against Philadelphia on January 27.

Samantha and I have been attending Capitals games for years, so when the time came to take our relationship to the next level, the venue was easy: the Verizon Center.

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