The Caps have 90 standings points and it’s not even March yet. With a 43-10-4 record, Washington is a virtual lock for the playoffs. They’re ranked number one in goals-for and number two in goals-against. No one can stop them, at least not for long.
Ninety-six points pretty much guarantees a playoff spot (unless you’re the 2015 Bruins), and the Caps are just six short of that. With a good run this week, the Capitals could record their 96th point on Friday. With 22 games left to play.
Here’s the schedule for this week.
Those are three eminently winnable games. In other words, the Capitals could lock up a playoff spot before March.
Photo: Amanda Bowen
If you’ve yet to come across it, I highly recommend giving Tom Haberstroh’s recent splendid piece of reporting for ESPN The Magazine a read. It sinks its teeth into the grisly nature of the NBA’s 82-game schedule, putting a spotlight on the immense physical toll it puts on its players. The story itself isn’t necessarily a revelation, but is important nonetheless because it gets to the root of the issue stemming from systemic flaws the league willingly inflicts upon itself.
The comparison between the NBA and NHL isn’t seamless. There are fundamental differences between the two sports. In basketball significantly fewer players are relied upon to carry the load. The tread on the tires can accumulate particularly quickly for those guys given how much they’re asked to do on a nightly basis. Regardless, the idea that performance dips under fatigued conditions holds true in hockey just the same. The ability to control territorial play, generate more goals than the opposition, and ultimately win games all precipitously declines with decreased rest, lending credence to the phenomenon of “schedule losses.”
The Washington Capitals organization gives out a program during games called “Breakaway.” Inside, it features various Caps players and their various (potentially embarrassing) survey answers. Kuzy, I’m sure, loves the surveys (Ian really enjoys that Vine), and some might even say he has a bad romance with them.
I learned a lot . . . maybe too much — such as Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s favorite musician being Lady Gaga. One can only imagine how excited he was to watch the singer perform the national anthem at Super Bowl 50. Let’s look at some other tidbits that thornescratch over on Tumblr provided us with.
Photo: Claus Anderson
The NHL trade deadline is coming up on February 29. The Caps have a real chance to win the Stanley Cup this season, so you can bet that Brian MacLellan, though he doesn’t need to make a deal, will certainly try to improve the team if he finds a good deal.
While memories of the Filip Forsberg trade may fill some fans with Sartrean nausea, it must be noted that the Caps are in the midst of a two-year Cup window. The focus has to be on players who can help the team right now. Everything in 2015-16 has been coming up Caps so far, but nothing about future seasons is assured. If MacLellan can improve this club, one that has a very real shot at being the last team standing in June, he needs to strike now.
Ed. note: Please say hello to Victoria Dravis, RMNB’s latest acquisition.
Hockey players: They’re just like us! (And by us, I mean me and the thousands of other teenage girls hooked on the best game on Earth; no bias.)
Speaking of game, just look at Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky‘s Snapchat and Instagram game on the two whitest social networks above. So on point. #nofilter
Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner has now played in 423 consecutive games, passing Bob Carpenter for the franchise’s all-time record. Hockey is arguably the most brutal of the top four American sports. Playing just a single 82-season without missing a game is an accomplishment. Alzner’s managed to string four of those together, plus a full 48-game season after the 2012 lockout, and he’s well on his way to doing it again this season again (knock on wood).
Alzner is a reliable and smart player. He uses good skating skills and stick positioning to be successful. And, for five years and counting, he’s been willing to sacrifice his body when the moment calls for it.
The Capitals honored Alzner with a video on the jumbotron during the first period.
Editor’s note: Oh snap, it’s the return of the Making RMNB Last essay series. RMNB Patrons give Peter a topic, he writes, you read. Enjoy!
From the end of 2010 until the end of 2014, Alex Ovechkin was the baby-smooth face of men’s razors and shaving products company Gillette. Except for special exceptions, Ovi kept his chin tidy for contractual reasons. In late 2010, HBO 24/7 captured the ritual in action:
Among RMNB readers, Ovi’s shaving habits were controversial. Andrew F., who originally wanted me to write about Filip Forbserg but eff that noise, asked me to conduct a serious statistical comparison of The Two Ovis: shaved and scruffy.
Hell yeah, Andrew. It’s on.
This morning, the NHL released a series of tweets promoting this weekend’s All-Star Game in Nashville. Each tweet included a graphic to get to know each team’s mascot. Slapshot, the Caps mascot, said his (its?) favorite country artist is Luke Bryan, which makes me wonder if Slapshot is secretly Karl Alzner, but that’s a topic for another day.
Then there was Slapshot’s favorite comfort food. Slapshot named Carolina pulled pork, and put Stormy in parentheses. Stormy is the Hurricanes mascot. Stormy says he is a pig, but he looks more like a mouse to me.
Eating another mascot is pretty hardcore answer. Is that even possible? RMNB investigates!
The Washington Capitals are the league’s best team and lead the Eastern Conference by 16 points halfway through the season. They are dominating for a lot of reasons. You could point to the Caps’ league-leading power play and fifth-rated penalty kill, Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin being Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin, the rise of Evgeny Kuznetsov, or Brian MacLellan’s ace offseason acquisitions of Justin Williams and TJ Oshie.
I think one thing that sets this Caps team a part is the selfless brand of hockey they play.
We got another glimpse of this Tuesday during the second period of the Caps-Blue Jackets game. With the Caps up 5-2, future Lady Byng candidate Marcus Johansson forechecked in the corner with Blue Jackets defenseman Justin Falk. Falk, potentially trying to spark his terrible team in a hopeless game, began mauling the peaceful Swede. Then suddenly, Falk’s gloves were off. He wanted to fight Johansson. I’m not sure why. Johansson has zero career fights.
And that’s when fourth liner Michael Latta sprung into action.
I thought it might be important to write down how we were feeling in this moment. So often, what we say is wrapped up in irony, bile, or fatuousness, but Sunday night was different. Sunday night was better.
All at the same time, we all seemed to realize that we were witness to something special, and — in addition to awe — we all seemed to feel the same feeling: gratitude.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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