Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Google “enigmatic hockey player,” and your search results will likely be dominated by references to a certain Russian winger of the Washington Capitals –- not the team captain and perennial All-Star Alex Ovechkin, but rather his compatriot Alexander Semin.

Nobody ever accused The Other Alex of lacking the talent to play the game at the highest level, but he does have a reputation for running hot and cold. It’s no wonder no one ever knows exactly what to expect from the twenty-eight-year-old Sibiryak — even though he is currently the longest-serving member of the Capitals. It certainly doesn’t help that the last time you read an interview with Alexander Semin was– well… let’s just say a long time ago.

In an attempt to make a small dent in the shroud of mystery surrounding the Capitals winger, RMNB caught up with Semin at Kettler shortly after Capitals practice on Sunday. Sasha talked to us about playing the new defensive system, compared the two All-Star goalies the Caps have faced in this year Stanley Cup playoffs, and shared his thoughts on the upcoming 10th anniversary of being drafted by the Capitals.

And did he ever want to be an astronaut, just like Ilya Bryzgalov? Read on!

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Alex Ovechkin has just about every part of his game pulled apart and scrutinized this season, from his leadership to his ice time to his physicality. His attitude has perhaps been criticized more than anything else– arguably with the least amount of basis, but Ovechkin has developed a reputation for not being a “team-first” player.

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The biggest jinx since the Oil Painting. (Photo credit: Ted Starkey)

On Monday– many, many hours before the Capitals and Rangers took the ice for Game Five– the New York Rangers sent out an email encouraging its fans to buy tickets for the Eastern Conference Finals. But they left out one tiny little detail: they haven’t made the finals yet.

While we understand the need to sell tickets, this overdone graphic — which shows half the team doing a stick salute in Narnia or something, is pompous and ludicrous. The New York Rangers have lost their last two playoff series against the Capitals. You’d think they’d know better.

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This guy. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Washington Capitals went back to the dimly lit den of sin called Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Against the New York Rangers, with whom they were tied 2-2 in the series, the Caps struggled to muster the offense that had characterized their last couple games, but they did have a little traction on the power play. Unfortunately for them, however, the Rangers had more.

Anton Stralman got a softy on Braden Holtby in a dominant first period for the Rangers. The tide turned in the second period, and Brooks Laich evened it up with a sneaky snap after an offensive-zone faceoff.

John Carlson earned the lead with a barrage of slap shots on a third-period power play. But in the final 20 seconds of the game, Joel Ward’s high-sticking penalty gave Brad Richards the tying goal. With 7 freaking seconds left.

So we went to overtime once more, but it didn’t last long. Marc Staal ended it on the power play.  Rangers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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"Even after surgery, he's still rockin' the red! He doesn't miss a beat. #WinItForLocker" (Photo credit: Courtney Laughlin | @courtlaugh22)

Those who follow Craig Laughlin on twitter were probably aware that the Caps announcer was going under the knife today. It’s not a surprise for him, a long-planned hip surgery made necessary by Laughlin’s long hockey career, but the Caps fanbase rallied around him anyway to wish him well.

Laughlin made it clear that he didn’t intend to miss any Caps games, though, even from the hospital. Later in the day he tweeted the above picture, and his daughter tweeted another.

As promised — he didn’t miss a game, and even though we miss his voice on CSN, we’re happy to see him healthy and smiling. Send your well wishes to him on the twitter machine at @Laughlin18, email us, or link your your Get Well Soon cards in the comment section! Scribbles, noodle art, Photoshops, anything that expresses your love for one half of our broadcast team. We’ll post our favorites in this post.

#WinItForLocker

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

When Dale Hunter was first hired as Caps head coach, old-time fans of the team assumed #32 would bring his fiery nature behind the bench. Instead, Hunter has been cool, calm, and collected, rarely losing his composure or seeming visibly upset.

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Photo credit: Greg Fiume

After Mike Green rifled a shot past Henrik Lundqvist in the third period, the Capitals had to hold a one-goal lead for almost six minutes to win Game Four. With that in mind, Dale Hunter sent out the Wagons. Washington held the Rangers to only two shots on goal during that stretch — six blocked — and would hold on to win 3-2 and tie the series at 2.

“The Wagons got the job done with the blocked shots at the end,” Mike Green told reporters after the game. “Great team effort.”

So who are these Wagons that Green’s referring to, and what does that even mean? Glad you asked.

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New York and the Rangers: Rotten Apple


Photo credit: Movie Vault

Editor’s note: The playoff series gives Caps fans a chance to learn all about our stupid rivals and the exotic (i.e., terrible) places they come from. For the second of their Stanley Cup travelogue series, the PuckBuddys offer “How To Spot A Rangers Fan” and helpfully explain why a trip to Manhattan is only slightly worse than a colonoscopy. Follow @PuckBuddys.

Sometimes literary fiction can teach us something great and truthy. I’m thinking here about timeless classics like “Escape from New York,” “The Stand”, or “I Am Legend” (Will Smith version, duh). In these worlds, Manhattan’s streets are littered with drooling ghouls, shuffling corpses and brainless zombies, with a few rapists tossed in for good measure. The entire island is alternately either a prison or a graveyard, both equally wretched, and always there’s one or two smart people trying desperately to flee, usually to Washington.

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Photos by Chris Gordon. Click to enlarge.

A day after their thrilling 3-2 victory over the Rangers to even the series, Washington took to the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Sunday morning. As they prepared to head to New York for a pivotal Game 5 Monday, the team’s sprits were high and the beards long. Below, check out some of my photos from the skate.

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Caps defense dead tired during overtime. (Photo credit: Clydeorama)

During the regular season, a full sixty-minute hockey game at Verizon Center starts at 7pm and typically ends around 9:30. If there’s an overtime or a shootout, the game ends at the latest around 9:45pm.

On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals played their fifth game of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs that went into extra time. When Marian Gaborik scored in sudden death to end the game — it was the next day and also the longest recorded game of the 2012 NHL postseason thus far, lasting an insane four hours and 34 minutes. One hour and fifty-four minutes of hockey was played that night. The game was the third longest in Capitals history, and the longest ever at Verizon Center.

So how do the players adjust to such a marathon game and what does the training staff on the bench do to help? I spoke to Capitals Equipment Manager Brock Myles and he revealed the staff’s methods of keeping the players energized, focused, and ready to play.

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