When the Washington Capitals are defeated in the playoffs, everyone in DC becomes miserably miserable. We leave cranky comments on stories, kvetch on talk radio, and demand someone be held accountable. I’m sure some of that stuff happens in Sweden too, but take a look at this photo taken in Stockholm on Sunday night.
Five Washington Capitals players participated in the Olympics and all of them had a miserable time. No one tore an MCL like John Tavares of the Islanders or got back surgery like Henrik Zetterberg of the Wings, but you can’t really say the Caps escaped Sochi unscathed. It was basically a ten-day pain parade that we’d all like to forget as soon as possible.
But not yet.
We need to understand it better first. We should map in our minds the unfettered misery of the Sochi Olympics. For reasons. To this end I have devised a two-dimensional matrix of sadness and badassness. Presenting the RMNB Putin-Weir matrix. (I’m really proud of this, so shut up.)
On one axis we have Sad Putin, the basic unit of human suffering. Based on the works of Viktor Frankl and Martin Buber, Sad Putin measures bad things like losing, losing real bad, getting eviscerated by the media, getting busted injecting black tar allergy medicine, and missing the birth of your child.
On the other axis we have Badass Weir, the basic unit of yolo. To rank on the Weir axis, one must outperform expectations, scoar a sick goal, buck the trends, and generally be a cool dude like Johnny Weir.
By combining these metrics, I hope to understand precisely how sucky the Sochi Olympics were. I don’t know why we’d want to do that, but we’re doing it.
We’ve sometimes lobbed criticism at Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates, but one thing we can agree on is that his handling of Alex Ovechkin since being hired has been excellent.
Oates has reinvigorated the Caps captain, helping him to win the MVP the last season. Under Oates’ tutelage, Ovechkin has grown as a player and a scorer.
On Wednesday when asked about the mountains of criticism for Ovechkin after Russia failed to medal in their own Olympics, Oates — in my opinion — had one of his finest moments as a Capital.
Photo: Bruce Bennett
Monday was fun. All the Olympic hockey players arrived in Sochi, practiced with their teams, and posed for a billion photos. Alex Ovechkin, our namesake and inspiration, took up the leftmost spot on a very impressive line with Evgeni Malkin and Alex Semin for Team Russia, and everything was peachy. And yet I’m filled with dread about what’s coming.
A few dozen articles about the burden on Ovi and Russia’s inhuman expectations of success have done nothing to ease my nerves. I read Mike Wise unabashedly supporting Ovi because of all the pressure he faces. I read an AP item about how all of Mother Russia has pinned $50 billion (yeah right) on Alex’s wings. I read the L.A. Times congratulating Ovi for smiling despite the unspeakable tumult he’ll be feeling by Wednesday. I read The Globe and Mail describe Ovi as a “hero” and a “brand.” I saw bloggers and players predict gold for Russia in general and Olympic glory for Ovechkin in particular. Even Greenberg think they’ll get silver.
To hear the press say it, Ovechkin has never looked more serene, more confident, or more friendly– not like that sourpuss-loser-grump who blew us all off in Vancouver; no. That’s when it occurred to me: this is a whole lot of posturing for a guy who may have very little say in who wins gold. And if Russia doesn’t win gold, look out.
Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach
The NHL shuts down on Saturday night and the Olympic tournament starts on Wednesday, so get ready for ten days of what an all-star game should look like: the world’s best players (sans Jack Johnson) playing games that they actually care about. If you’re a hockey fanatic, Olympic hockey might be even better that the quarterfinal round of the playoffs– albeit with less productivity at work (most of the games are at 7 am or noon).
Since the “R” in RMNB stands for Russian and we’ve got two Ruskies on the staff, you might think we’d be in the tank for the home team. You’d be wrong (mostly). Below, the entire RMNB team shares its picks for the Olympic mens hockey tournament. Tell us where we’re wrong (e.g. Canada) and share your own picks in the comments.
Photo: Jamie Sabau
This is going to be brutal, but it needs to be said.
The Washington Capitals are one of the worst teams in the league. This is the most frustrated I’ve been with a Capitals’ team since 2001-02, when that version of the Caps missed the playoffs despite acquiring Jaromir Jagr over the summer
I’d be more okay with the Capitals’ play this season — sometimes teams just don’t gel — if they were actually a bunch of terrible players playing terribly. But this team is loaded with a good core: a three-time MVP, one of the best centers in the game, three above-average defensemen, an above-average goaltender, and a bunch of intelligent veteran players. Unfortunately, the players in front of Braden Holtby either repeatedly make the same dumb mistakes, are too passive on defense, or are too careless with the puck.
There is no urgency with this team despite their difficult upcoming schedule and their recent seven-game losing streak. In the last two games, the Caps have given up nine goals against the Sabres and the Blue Jackets. Nine goals. Against the Buffalo freaking Sabres and the Columbus effing Blue Jackets.
Let’s review the Columbus goals. I want you to understand my pain.
Photo: Kevin Hoffman
When the Washington Capitals traded Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta last year, an upset and cranky me commented on my own website,”Horrible trade. I’m embarrassed to be a Caps fan today.” To the two people who downvoted me, I will accept your apologies via email, tweet, and/or public groveling.
I didn’t hate the trade because the Caps were trading Forsberg (though I have the utmost confidence he will be a productive player in the NHL). I hated the trade because of the timing and philosophy behind it. The Capitals, worried about losing Mike Ribeiro to free agency, acquired another aging and expensive player. They loaded up for a playoff push despite being pretty dang far away from Stanley Cup contention– and in the process they gave away seven years of a talented young player who just a month ago was named MVP of the World Junior Championships.
A year later, we’re back at the crossroads. General Manager George McPhee — as well as Ted Leonsis and the rest of the organization — have some tough decisions to make about the team’s philosophy moving forward. The Caps are the sixth worst team in the league in the standings, three of their players have publicly requested trades, their defense is holey, and their offense lacks chemistry. But they also have a bevy of talented, young players knocking on the door for roster spots or waiting for bigger roles: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Riley Barber, and Philipp Grubauer.
So are the Caps rebuilding, retooling, or loading up?
Whatever they decide, these next few weeks will be pivotal for the Capitals. They must make trades ahead of the March 5th deadline. But here’s one deal they better not make: trading for Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.
Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn
The folks who were clamoring for more hockey coverage by Washington Post columnists are probably kicking themselves right now. Mike Wise’s Thursday night column, “It’s time for the Washington Capitals to move defenseman Mike Green,” is a jumble of ill-advised analysis culminating in that titular recommendation, which doesn’t make sense.
In his defense, Wise’s piece is charming, and he does a splendid job summarizing the Capitals woes. I don’t think anyone would disagree with his first sentence:
Something has to change.
But Wise’s choice of Thing What Needs Changing is totally capricious, and I hope no one in the Capitals front office takes it seriously.
You may have noticed Chris Gordon handled recap duties on Sunday night. That’s because I went up to New York City to watch the Rangers game with my friend John, who got me into hockey in the first place, and his new wife Kristi. We had a ball watching the Caps get utterly smoked for the fifth straight game at Madison Square Garden and I’m here to tell you about it.
It’s an epic tale of fans and frenemies, of con men and kids, of Jack Daniels and Coke. Time travel with me.
Oleksy as a kid. (Photo credit: Steve Oleksy)
When you examine the Washington Capitals roster and pore over every player on defense, Steve Oleksy feels like a name that belongs. After signing with the organization as an unrestricted free agent in 2012, Oleksy worked his butt off in Hershey and earned a call-up to the Caps in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
During that year, it appeared that Oleksy, receiving 17:16 of ice time per game, solidified himself as a solid third pairing NHL defender. When Oleksy was playing, he tilted the ice in the Caps direction. Plus, he was a physical defender that would stick up for teammates and even chip in with some clutch offense. Did we mention he was physical?
Even after getting sporadic playing time this season under Adam Oates, Oleksy still has better possession stats than John Erskine and Connor Carrick. Yet, we’re here.
Monday morning, Renaud Lavoie of Journal de Montreal broke the news that Oleksy was placed on waivers. At 12pm tomorrow, Oleksy could be claimed by another NHL team and gone from the Caps organization forever. That would be a total bummer.
In his short time in DC, Oleksy has managed to become a fan favorite. He showed heart on the ice with humility and humor off of it.
Here are some of my favorite moments.