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With his team trailing by two goals in the third, Tom Wilson did Tom Wilson things by delivering a hard and questionable hit. Wilson was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.

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Photo: Mark Nolan

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how to improve the game of hockey– bigger nets, smaller goalie gear, smaller goalies, more teams, and so on. But I would ask a different question: What’s so wrong with it right now?

It’s true that it’s getting harder out there for goal scorers. Last season saw the lowest league-leading scoring total since Stan Mikita could only muster up 87 points in 1967-68 (in a 74 game season). The days of Gretzky scoring more than 200 points per season are long gone.

But so are the days when only a few teams in a given year had a real chance to win it all. During the high-scoring days of 1969-1993, eight different teams won the Stanley Cup. In those 25 years, Montreal won it nine times. Edmonton won it five times. In the 20 years since, 11 different teams have won the Cup, and only Detroit has won it more than three times.

The scoring hay-day created some historic moments and essentially shaped the brand of hockey that fans expect from the stars of our game today, but I think many of those championship teams would be hard pressed to be in the top four or five in today’s NHL. The way the game is played today hardly resembles that of the ’80s Oilers, but that’s not to say that today’s NHL is worse. Far from it.

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Twenty Games In: The RMNB Report Card

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As a team, the Capitals deserve glowing reviews through their first 22 games. I’m talking A- or B+ at the lowest. They’re tops in the Metro in points per game, they’re in the top five in most stats, and now even Vegas thinks they’re a contender.

We’re using this momentary lull between games to assess the team on an individual level. Every player is taking home a report card today, and mommy and daddy are hoping they get high marks.

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Let’s Talk About the Offside Rule

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Did you know that offside in hockey used to be defined as any forward pass? Yes, you read that correctly. Before 1927, a forward pass in hockey was considered offside. The rule is obviously different now, and certainly less restrictive, but does the game benefit from the restrictions caused by the current offside rule?

Imagine you were explaining hockey to someone who knows absolutely nothing about the sport and you were explaining offside to them. And then, right in the middle of your explanation, this wise, wise person asks “what is the benefit of having an offside rule?”

What would your answer be? I’ve posed the question a lot recently and I’ve yet to come across an explanation that satisfies me. Please note that I’m not saying hockey should get rid of offside. I’m simply looking for how the game benefits from the existence of the rule.

I’m not asking what having an offside rule does. Yes, it prevent cherry picking and the like. But I want to know what the benefit of preventing cherry picking is. Don’t explain what the rule does, explain what the benefit of the rule is.

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12 Things You Should Buy Your Caps Fan For Christmas

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It’s Thanksgiving weekend, which means you’re ready to unload your cash quicker than at one of those rigged carnival games. Just one more try, honey. I’m going to get that ring around that damn milk bottle. I got this.

This year, RMNB is here to help you find the perfect gift for that cherished Capitals fan in your life. And if we miss any good gifts or Black Friday deals, we’re sure one of our readers will let us know about it in the comments below.

Let’s begin!

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#MCM: Rank the Capitals For Us Pretty Please

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The RMNB crew whiles away the hours during intermissions and off-days by chatting about the things that matter to us. I’ve made a pie chart of our most common topics.

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As you can see, the relative hotness of Caps players is a main point of discussion, narrowly edging out pro wrestling. Almost no one cares about Miatas, which are stupid cars.

To be frank, this debate is running me ragged. I’ve had it up to here [points somewhere sorta high] with hot takes on hot Caps. So I declare it’s time to settle this democratically.

I present to you now this authoritative Cute Caps ranking, which is not at all using technology I have shamelessly re-appropriated from Japers Rink.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

On October 12, 2013, Nate Schmidt made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche. A little more than two years later, Schmidt has played 83 NHL games. His journey to the NHL has been unsteady with his coaches trying to figure out whether he’s an AHL prospect, a healthy scratch candidate, or typical third pairing defensemen. But Schmidt is none of those. In fact, he may be one of the better defensemen in the NHL. And with a lower body injury sidelining top pairing defenseman Brooks Orpik, Schmidt finally has a chance to prove it.

“I don’t think we’re seeing anything different,” head coach Barry Trotz told me of Schmidt’s play. “Nate, we felt, we had the most trust in at this point that we moved him up, gave him the opportunity. The things that he does well is skate. He’s skating and getting up ice, getting back on the breakouts, hard on the forecheck, and he defends well because of his mobility and stick. He’s a very effective player for us.”

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Alex Ovechkin Needs to Learn to Live with 483 Goals

Alex Ovechkin has not scored a goal in the last four games. Sure, he’s put a puck in the net twice in that span [one, two], but neither counted. For twelve days he’s been stuck at 483 career goals, tied with Sergei Fedorov for the most scored by a Russian.

Since November 7, Ovechkin has stubbornly tried to score number 484. Instead of trying, he should just accept his fate as a 483-goal scorer. Forever.

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Nick Backstrom Making His Best Case Yet for Selke

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

Barry Trotz has been singing Nick Backstrom‘s praises since he took over as coach of the Caps. He’s basically called shenanigans on Backstrom never receiving the Selke (awarded the the league’s best defensive forward) and also called him the best two-way forward he’s ever coached.

Last season, Backstrom finished 11th in Selke voting. If voters are paying attention in 2015-16, they may notice Backstrom’s making his best case for Selke yet.

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Photo: Peter Holgersson

Success can be defined in a million different ways. It’s something we all desire, but there is no one way to measure it. To me, it’s all a feeling of satisfaction in what you are doing. Plain and simple. Are you happy doing what you are doing? If yes, welcome to success.

Shortly after Ian asked me to put together a few words on my move overseas, I stumbled upon an article written by former New Jersey Devils forward and long time AHLer Brad Mills. The article is called “The Bubble,” and it really got me thinking about the various directions we all end up taking to get to our final destinations as hockey players. I call it “the other side.”

Although I hate to think about the R-word, retirement is always just an eye injury away. The threat of being forced into the real world is at the tip of an opponent’s errant stick. In the article, Mills talks about his life on the proverbial NHL “bubble” where players take up residence when they are on the cusp of making it to the NHL full- time, or being a career minor leaguer. The term “yo-yo” is often used for players who spend year after year going up, then coming down, then going up, then coming down…get it? It’s often viewed as a negative thing, the bubble, but I happily lived there for the majority of my first 6-7 years as a pro. To me the bubble was a privileged place where somebody in a front office somewhere thought I was good enough to play in the NHL. And better yet, they felt that way frequently enough to call be back again and again and again. Sure, there were some tough days when I got sent down, and as a competitor you always want more, but I truly believed every time that I would go back up to the NHL one day. That made all my send downs a little easier. Looking back on those days now, do my mere 55 games played make my NHL career a failure?

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