Photo: Scott Cannon

A few weeks ago, Mike Green started playing with an old Easton Stealth CNT from his 30-goal season. Discontinued almost 10 years ago, Green found one of those sticks in his garage. Green started breaking out the stick in special situations, hoping to regain some of the offensive magic he had in the last decade. The CNT, he said, is the best stick he’s ever used. At the time, he had just one.

After I wrote about it, readers starting emailing RMNB to offer their old game-used Stealths that they had purchased or had been given by Green. Some are even signed. Since then, readers have slowly been resupplying Green with those old CNTs.

On Saturday, Green scored with one of those reader-provided sticks, his second goal since he started using the CNT again.

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Forsberg (2 of 6)

Photos by Chris Gordon.

Saturday, Filip Forsberg will play at Verizon Center for the first time. Caps fans eagerly awaited this moment when he was drafted 11th overall in 2012. But in March of 2013, Forsberg was sent to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. It was a bad trade from the start, made worse when Adam Oates ran Erat out of town. Ever since, it’s been a sore spot for Caps fans. This season, the wound has been ripped open. Through 75 games, Forsberg has 56 points and is in the running for the Calder Trophy. While Caps fans still miss him, it seems Washington never made much of an impression on Forsberg, who laced up for the Capitals just once, during the team’s 2012 Development Camp.

“From coming here, things turned out in a way that no one really saw coming,” Forsberg said Friday, when he visited Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the first time since the trade. “They’ll always be a part of it, but obviously I never really made anything for the Capitals.”

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

On Thursday night, Adam Oates was back behind the bench at Verizon Center for the first time since being fired at the end of last season. Much has changed since then. On this night, the Capitals were playing with sticks that were familiar to them and their coach was not giving his players the cold shoulder. But the most important change, at least on this night, came on defense. Oates instituted a defense system that required blueliners to give up the puck almost immediately after gaining it. This led to forced passes and a myriad of odd-man breaks against. It turned former Norris Trophy nominees like Mike Green into subject of ridicule. The Capitals defense, on the whole, was very bad.

This year, however, things are different. In offseason, new general manager Brian MacLellan added some much needed balance to the Capitals by signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to big money deals. New coach Barry Trotz has also freed up its defensemen, allowing them to carry the puck when necessary. This has led to a resurgence for Green, who has 39 points this season. Other blueliners have also chipped in. Through 73 games, Karl Alzner had more than doubled his career high in goals and surpassed his career high in assists.

Against the Devils, Alzner added his fifth goal of the year in a decidedly un-Oatesian way.

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CongressionalHockeyChallenge (24 of 24)

Reps. John Katko, Pat Meehan, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer pose with Lawmakers teammate Peter Bondra after defeating the Lobbyists in the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

When you hear that someone famous is a hockey fan, it has novelty, something not reserved for fans of baseball, basketball, and football. While we may be absorbed in the community, hockey is the smallest of all major professional sports in the United States. Many Americans have never watched it. Fewer have tried it. On Wednesday, however, it was featured at American’s center of power. In the afternoon, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman went to the Hill to meet with members of Congressional Hockey Caucus and announce Thurgood Marshall scholarship recipients. In the evening, four of those congressmen played in the seventh annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. Representatives John Katko (R-NY), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Pat Meehan (R-PA) competed for the Lawmakers. They were joined on their team by former Capitals player Peter Bondra (RW-Slovakia) as well as administration officials, congressional staffers and Canadian Parliament member Gord Brown.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

Original young gun, Mike Green, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Green has arguably been the team’s best defenseman this season. He’s fourth on the team in points (39) and has the best possession (52.6 percent) among regular Caps defenseman. He improved the Capitals’ shot-attempt percentage two percent when he’s on the ice (after adjusting for score effects). He’s a big part of the team’s success.

So far this season, general manager Brian MacLellan has been vague on Green’s future as the $6.25-million defenseman has had his name bandied about in trade rumors. Meanwhile, Barry Trotz believes some legwork has been done already for a new contract.

When speaking to Sportsnet about Green’s upcoming UFA status in February, Trotz said, “I think Mac is talking to him, and talking to his representative about what they’re looking to do. We’re in that process I’m sure.”

Trotz said that Green is “an important piece.”

On Sunday, I asked Green what exactly was going on.

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In a recent interview with Sportsnet, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask talked about his love of tennis and if he googles himself or not. Sadly, there was nothing explaining why his head is so weird and oblong, but he did reveal who he thinks has the most difficult shot to stop in the NHL.

Alex Ovechkin.

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Brooks Laich hadn’t scored since January 7. Since then the $4.5 million a year player had been a healthy scratch and now a fourth liner. That bottom line, though, is filled with rejected top-sixers rather than talentless scrubs — one member of the Sabres organization quipped that it was better than Buffalo’s first line. On Saturday night, that line — Laich, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson — added Washington’s fourth tally of the night, Laich’s first goal in two months.

“I sort of flashed back to the first goal I ever scored in the NHL,” Laich told reporters after the game. “It was in Montreal and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I got back to the bench and Glen Hanlon he says ‘congratulations.’ I was like ‘dude, I can’t stop smiling.’ He was like ‘good, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.’ This one sort of felt like that.”

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Photo: Jenna Boyer

In early January, Jenna Boyer stared at her computer intrigued. Hannah Delmonte, a fellow teenager at Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, Virginia, had asked Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho to prom via social media. Acho said yes, with a condition. He’d only go with her if she got 10,000 retweets. Delmonte’s tweet passed that number within a few hours. In February, Acho flew to Virgina and surprised Delmonte. It was one of those cute, amazing, feel-good, national stories.

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There it is. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

At the start of the 2008 NHL season, Mike Green came to camp with just 15 sticks. They were Easton Stealth CNTs. At the time, Green said his sticks had been discontinued for “a while.” He would be getting no more. Over the course of that season, Green posted unbelievable numbers for a defensemen, scoring 31 goals. Looking at the goal leaderboard for that season, Green is just below some of the most high flying scorers in the league: Malkin, Toews, and Crosby to name a few.

At one point Green scored a stunning 10 times in eight straight games. The goals during the streak all came off the same Easton, which Green said was the best stick he’s ever played with. Reluctantly, he agreed to donate it to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“You can only be superstitious for so long,” Green said.

Green’s moment of reckoning came on May 2, 2009. Playing in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Green broke his last surviving Stealth CNT.

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Alex Ovechkin loves to score goals. Afterwards, sometimes he leaps in into the glass, sometimes he does a jig, sometimes he tumbles to the ground like a building loaded with TNT. That last one happened on Sunday night after Ovi’s fortieth goal of the season.

“I think sniper was up there, shot me in foot,” Ovechkin told reporters after the game.

When I asked around the Capitals locker room at the Kettler on Monday, I was hoping the learn that Ovi’s teammates had seen the fall — or at least the replay — and had been giving Ovechkin a hard time. Troy Brouwer didn’t let me down.

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