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Photo: Scott Audette

Washington Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt is kindness on skates. So, needless to say, it was a little weird to see him viciously throwing hands with a fellow NHL player. Schmidt’s second period fight with J.T. Brown was his first in the NHL and the third of his professional career.

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evgeny-kuznetsov-skating

Photo: Patrick Smith

In an NHL.com interview hyping the World Cup Of Hockey, Evgeny Kuznetsov, who leads the Capitals with 26 points, was asked by Vassili Ossipov about his transition from the KHL to the NHL. Kuznetsov had struggled until he found his stride after last season’s all-star break. In a recent interview with Pierre McGuire, Braden Holtby called Kuznetsov the team’s best player during last year’s playoff.

So what was the thing that clicked for Kuznetsov?

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brooks-laich-phone

Photo: Angela Weiss

Last week, we broke the news that Brooks Laich was snubbing Tom Wilson and Michael Latta on Instagram. Basically, Laich’s linemates were so desperate for an Instagram follow that they started commenting on his photos with fans.

“Can a liney get a follow back,” Latta begged in one Instagram post.

“Still waitin’ on a follow back from the left winger of the hottest line in hockey,” Wilson typed.

Last Wednesday, 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies told Laich about our story in their weekly segment together.

“Is that honestly a headline? I had no idea,” Laich said laughing.

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nate-schmidt-pumpkin-pie

On Monday morning, Nate Schmidt sat down with a sigh in his stall in the locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. After having an off day on Sunday, Washington had just concluded a hard, training camp-style practice. Schmidt, though, claimed he had other reasons for being zapped.

“I usually get my energy from being outside and it’s been raining,” he told Katie Brown of NHL.com.

Schmidt is a fun guy and a great hockey player. He’s also American, which means unlike most Capitals players he celebrates our annual feast. Last Thursday, he visited some extended family in Virginia. There, Schmidt had a “double dinner” at two and seven, taking “an absolutely comatose nap” in between.

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Photo: @WashCaps

Braden Holtby is having perhaps the best season of his career. He leads the league in wins (15) and goals against average (1.95). With Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Toronto, Holtby continued to rock out, earning a career-best seventh consecutive win. Today, he was honored by the NHL as their second star of the week. Stud.

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caps-russians-family-feud

During Jill Sorenson’s priceless interview with Evgeny Kuznetsov, we learned that the young Russian’s favorite TV show is Family Feud. “You know like Deal, No Deal but another one,” he said.

Kuznetsov took his Family Feud bit further Friday in an interview with NHL Network. This happened right after the Caps 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.

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Photo: Graig Abel

At the end of this season, Jason Chimera will be 37. Nevertheless, the bottom-sixer known for his hands of stone is undergoing a revival. On November 11 against Philadelphia, Chimera scored two power play goals, his first game on the man advantage this season. In his nine games on the power play, Chimera has six points.

“Just a fine wine,” Chimera said, comparing himself to another high quality aged product. “Like French Oak or the new stuff, the steel cask maybe.”

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The Capitals Stopped Playing and It Cost Them a Goal

PatrickMcDermottBolts

Photo: Patrick McDermott

The Capitals were up 4-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning with just over nine minutes to play. The game looked well in hand. Then Dmitry Orlov attempted to flip a puck out of the defensive zone. Instead, it was battled down by Anton Stralman past the blueline. Stralman then reentered the zone. The play looked, at game speed, to be clearly offside. The Capitals benched roared at the linesmen. Nevertheless, play went on. A few seconds later, Tampa had a goal, the start of an impressive third period that could have cost the Capitals the game.

“I thought it was, but I mean I can’t see that,” Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said. “You usually have plays like that just blown down.”

The Caps clearly expected it would be. Jason Chimera, Andre Burakovsky, Jay Beagle, Trevis (?) Chorney, and Orlov all stopped for a second. In the meantime, the Bolts set up in the offensive zone and Brian Boyle one-timed a puck past Holtby.

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Nov 27, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Geoff Burke

For the last few years, when you think of Alex Ovechkin, or even the Capitals, you are drawn to their savage power play. Since Adam Oates took over, it has been at the top of the league, ranked first in last season, second in 2013-14, and first in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season. Ovechkin is the heavy artillery. Last season, Alex Ovechkin accounted for 42 percent of the Washington Capitals’ power play goals. From 2012-14 seasons, Ovi was responsible for nearly four tenths of the man advantage tallies. Year after year, he fired shot after shot from the same spot. There was little change in the result: a whole bunch of goals.

This year, however, something has been different. Through 20 games this season, Ovechkin had just one power play marker. The numbers tell a pretty clear story: Ovechkin just isn’t getting as many shots attempts on the man advantage.

But Friday night, Ovechkin was peppering Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilvskiy on Washington’s first power play. His first five shots went wide or were saved. His sixth attempt in under two minutes hit the back of the net, set up by a brilliant pass from Jason Chimera. It marked Ovechkin’s third power play goal of the season.

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Midway through the third period of Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over at center ice and started a wild chain of events. The Capitals, in the middle of a shift change, watched helplessly as Oilers’ stars Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall raced in alone on Braden Holtby.

But the Oilers didn’t score! Or even get a shot off. Hall fumbled Yakupov’s pass and as the Oilers regained possession of the puck, Karl Alzner— playing man-to-man defense against Teddy Purcell — blocked a shot from the point with his shin pads.

The puck squirted to center ice and sprung Alzner, he of 14 career NHL goals, on a semi-breakaway.

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