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Saturday at Harry Grove Stadium was Hockey Day. The Frederick Keys staff wore hockey gear (I’m wagging my finger at you, girl in Malkin shirsey), and two former Washington Capitals, Craig Laughlin and Alan May, threw out the ceremonial first pitches and signed autographs for fans on the concourse.

Before the first pitches were thrown, however, there was some intrigue.

The night before, during the Caps telecast, Laughlin promised to CSN Washington’s Joe Beninati that he would zing the ball into home plate going “105.”

Let’s goooooo to the videotape.

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The Washington Capitals have been eliminated from playoff contention, and, sure, Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks — the 81st game of the season — was literally meaningless. But dammit, don’t tell that to Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom had a goal, an assist, and set his focus on recording his first career Gordie Howe hat trick. Angry Swede is angry.

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That might explain why the Capitals are playing so well tonight.

Thanks to @terpgrrl for the screenshot.

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Embrace your own futility and everyone will love you for it.

Thanks to carrotbazooka for first posting. Also, Happy Birthday!

 

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Photo: Rob Carr

Now that the Washington Capitals will officially miss the playoffs for the first time in six years, this is a great time to focus more on the tendencies of this Adam Oates-led team. While a lot of positive stories have been written about the team’s revitalized power play and its Russian captain, there’s a lot of reasons why we think Oates may be holding this team back from bigger and better things. Like, here’s twenty of them.

Then there’s the whole issue of the Caps sometimes looking like a beer-league team on the ice. Over the last few weeks, Caps players have violently collided into each other three times. Three. Times. And in two straight games.

Because this seems to be more like a pattern than a series of freak events, I collected GIFs and video of all the times it’s happened during Oates’ tenure. It’s happened… a lot.

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This season has been a major blower, but there’s been one consistent bright spot. No matter what people say about his unsightly (but distorted) plus-minus, Alex Ovechkin has been phenomenal this year. On Tuesday he scored his 50th goal of the season, reaching the mark for the fifth time in his career. It was the first time he’s done so since 2009-10.

After the game, Ovi cheesed with the milestone puck.

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The Caps-Blues game started off nice enough. The good guys drew a penalty late in the first period when Derek Roy slashed Alex Ovechkin. The Caps power play had a couple of looks, but everything went wrong after that.

It ended with Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson lying on the ice in pain, the second white-on-white collision in as many weeks.

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Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Capitals first-round pick Andre Burakovsky has had an excellent run in his first season in North America. After scoring 41 goals in 57 games during the regular season, Burakovsky kicked off the OHL playoffs with six goals in four games before hitting a mini-slump of three scoreless contests (all of which were won by his Erie Otters).

That slump lasted through a tight, low-scoring game 3 of the series between Erie and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. With less than two minutes left game and up 1-0, Burakovsky– who doesn’t play with Erie’s stars of Dane Fox, Connor Brown, Brendan Gaunce and Connor McDavid– ensured the win.

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In I-can’t-believe-I’m-actually-writing-about-this news, Sunday night at the SILVERDOME — err, I’m sorry the Superdome — WWE held their own Superbowl of Superbowls: Wrestlemania. And because it was the 30th anniversary, it was extra super. Stone Cold came back and drank some beers with The Rock, The Undertaker got his ass unmercilessly kicked by Brock Lesnar, and Triple HHH did something narcissistic again. That last one’s not special.

And sorry Peter, no, CM Punk did not come back.

Arguably the most special moment was when a former independent wrestler, the very bearded Daniel Bryan, won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship over DC’s own Batista and Randy Orton. Bryan is tiny and shouts “yes!” a lot and everyone loves him.

From where did he summon this mighty power though? Obviously, from the video they showed before the championship match, in which a younger Bryan high-fives a guy in a white Capitals jersey.

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Photo: @m0tar

On Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche held their fan appreciation night at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Just like the Capitals, each Avs player gave the jersey off his back to one adoring fan.

After making 30 saves in 65 minutes of work (plus a shootout), a very tired Semyon Varlamov was the first to give his jersey away.

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