Six Capitals Predictions to Warm Your Heart

The Caps last played meaningful hockey on April 13th. Here’s what I wrote in that game recap:

…this is the end of this. Whatever’s next, it won’t ever feel like this again. The roster, the coaches, the front office– the sword of Damocles looms above them all. A shining new era is tip-toeing nearer.

And then everything changed. New coach, new system, new GM, new defense, new forwards, and I think I saw a few new gray hairs on Ovi’s head. The tumult of the last six months has been discomforting for some, but I’m excited.

I bet I can get you excited too. Lemme try.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

I doubt I’ll ever understand the Brooks Orpik contract, but I promise you I’m going to go into the season looking for any reason to fall in love with him, Pittsburgh shirts or no. He’s our guy now.

But I just read a profile on the new Caps defenseman, and I am in that unhappy place again.

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Photo: @Crosby2787

On Sunday night, the Pensblog published a post titled ORPIK WEARING 412 T-SHIRT IN WASHINGTONI didn’t know what 412 was, so I hit up the googles.

Fouronetwo, named for the Pittsburgh area code, is an activewear brand from Pittsburgh. It’s all about Pittsburgh sports pride.

For a player making his first impression to Washington sports fans, Brooks Orpik wearing a shirt specifically touting Pittsburgh sports was a curious choice.

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Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin hasn’t played in a single game yet, but TSN’s Darren Dreger is already criticizing him for future wrongs. Two years after completely changing positions and not complaining under Adam Oates, Dreger is worried that the Russian machine won’t “buy in” on the plans of new Caps head coach Barry Trotz.

Welcome to Hot Take Central where the temperature is always scorching.

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Editor’s note: This is another short piece about Ukraine and Ovechkin. Unlike last time, it’s light on political opinion and condensed history, but if you don’t want any politics in your sports, feel free to skip over this one. All opinions in here are my own.

NHL media day went a bit off-topic today as the press asked Alex Ovechkin about the controversial photo he shared late last month. Speaking with Craig Custance of ESPN, Ovechkin said, “I don’t try to make a statement.” He was speaking about the photo of him literally holding a statement in front of his chest.

“I just don’t want a war,” Alex Ovechkin said, just two weeks after holding up the Kremlin-coordinated slogan used to justify its war in Ukraine, while wearing a “no war” shirt.

It’s only the latest convolution of this nearly incomprehensible story.

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Led by Corey Masisak, a team of NHL.com writers have published their ranking of the league’s top 14 centers. Washington Capitals center Nick Backstrom is not on that list.

Nathan MacKinnon, Claude Giroux, Joe Thornton, and Henrik Sedin all ranked above Backstrom. Only one writer, Dan Rosen, included Backstrom in the top 14.

I’m not outraged. I can kind of see why they did it, and it all depends on how we define our terms.

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Editor’s note: There is news and reporting in here, but it’s also an opinion piece. My opinions are my own. I won’t speak for anyone else at RMNB. I also encourage everyone to do their own research on this and not just take me- or anyone else– at face value. Frankly, I’d rather not write about this at all, but it seems inappropriate for a site named “Russian Machine Never Breaks” not to address this somehow.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin shared the above photo on Instagram this morning.

In the photo, Ovechkin, wearing a t-shirt that reads “No War,” holds up a sheet of paper pasted to posterboard, reading  “#SAVE CHILDREN FROM FASCISM” [sic].

It sounds like an implicit message of support for the rebels of Ukrainian. Those rebels, allegedly been funded and armed by the Kremlin, have been fighting against the Ukranian government in an ever-escalating war. As of this morning, there are reports that as many as a thousand Russian soldiers have now joined that war. That, it seems, is how Russia intends to save children from fascism.

In short, this is chauvinistic Russian propaganda.

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A return to Sweden looks like the likely option for Vrana (Photo: Andreas Froberg/SHL.se)

Capitals 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana is a talented player. The Czech forward put his skills on display at development camp this summer, where he lit up the opposition playing mostly next to another top prospect, Andre Burakovsky, and a free agent invitee, Slovene Olympian Jan Urbas.

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The End of the Conversation

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The hirings of Kyle Dubas as assistant GM in Toronto and Tyler Dellow as analytics expert in Edmonton have sent hockey’s good ol’ boys network into a panic. The contingent of hockey pundits who tout “intangibles” have long suspected and feared a reckoning at the hands of the spreadsheets. Now that it has finally happened, they effetely plead that the new era of analysis would not begin and end with Corsi:

These people miss the point. Advanced statistics aren’t just one piece in a bigger conversation. Advanced statistics are the end of the conversation.

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The Interesting Case of Vladimir Sobotka

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka has signed a three-year contract with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. It’s been reported by iSport.cz and translated to Russian by Sports.ru that Sobotka has a clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the NHL during any offseason. Reports of his salary have varied: the initial report by iSport had Sobotka’s salary at $4 million per year. Andy Strickland of CBS Sports Radio St. Louis tweeted that according to his sources Sobotka will be making $4.3 million average throughout the life of the deal. Sobotka’s agent Darryl Wolski tweeted that his client will be making just $2.8 million per year.

There’s even more confusion as to whether he could return to St. Louis or any other NHL team.

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