1 Day Out: Sochi

The NHL regular season begins tomorrow, and yet, for some people, the real action won’t begin until February. For the second time in our bloggity life, the NHL season will be interrupted for the Olympic hockey tournament.

Olympic hockey is great. The ice is big and weird, the rules confuse me, and the final games are like the All Star game except not absolutely unbearably awful like the All Star Game, which sucks. It’s Crosby and Team Canada vs Ovechkin and Team Russia vs Someone and Team USA vs Someone Else and Team Other Country Probably Sweden.

Here at RMNB, we are going all-out for the Olympics. We should — no wait, I just decided– we WILL send one of our writers to Russia for the event. Just picking at random… Fedor. There. Done. I’m a decision-maker. Fedor, if you’re reading this, please contact Ian for your traveling expenses.

Some people say Olympic gold is even better than winning a Stanley Cup. These people are called Europeans. For Europeans and European-sympathizing North Americans, the NHL season is going to be one big prelude to the Olympics. As rosters are finalized and the ice is laid down in Sochi and Evgeny Kuznetsov rehabs, our attentions might be momentarily swayed from Caps hockey. Please forgive us if that offends you. We feel duty-bound to cover it all and root for our preferred players’ quest for Olympic gold.

But we won’t ever forget that Stanley Silver is more valuable.

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3 Days Out: One Last Preseason Game, Thank Goodness

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I don’t like preseason hockey. I love hockey, sure, but preseason hockey is a weird animal. The player talent is all over the place. Marginal players are eager to make a statement by spilling buckets of blood (theirs or others’), good players look superhuman because they’re matched up against scrubs, and stat people don’t seem to care much for the inscrutable details like who actually scored the goals. Plus, I’m naturally skeptical about prospect players, who are often overhyped and rarely turn out to be viable NHL players. The whole exercise is wearying.

That said, we got a lot out of this (heavily televised) preseason: the rise of Connor Carrick, the rise of Nathan WalkerRecker vs Looch, some fancy Ovi stickwork, a crab on the ice, Joel Rechlicz winning a game using actual hockey, and Ovi looking tough.

But it’s over now. Saturday’s night game against the Cup-defending Chicago Blackhawks is the final exhibition game of the year. After that: real games for real points. Real net-crashing. Real line-up controversy. Real Caps hockey.

Bring it on.

 

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Mikhail Grabovski has had a sterling preseason. After resolving his visa issues, Grabo wasted no time establishing himself as a Belarusian assist machine, endearing himself to his teammates and Caps fans in the process.

Enter Zac Rinaldo, notorious Philly antagonist (317 PIMs in 98 games). The Flyer goon zeroed in on Grabo in the corner behind Neuvirth’s net. Rinaldo’s elbow hit Grabovski’s head, dropping the Caps center to the ice. Grabovski skated back to the bench under his own power and continued playing in the game. Rinaldo, on the other hand, received a five-minute major and game misconduct.

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5 Days Out: Stanislav Petrov

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This series so far has been a list of things we’re excited about– on-ice and off– for the new season. Today I wanna do something a little different. Today I want to introduce you to a man named Stanislav Petrov.

Thirty years ago, on September 26, 1983, Petrov was working on the Soviet nuclear missile defense program. His job was to monitor possible incoming attacks from the United States. If he detected an incoming attack, his job was to start the process for firing back at the US. Mutually Assured Destruction.

That night, Petrov’s early-warning system said an American attack had been launched. Five intercontinental ballistic missiles were incoming. But instead of mindlessly doing his duty, Petrov used that rarest of human talents: doubt. He judged it to be a false alarm. He did not tap the big red Пуск button that would have begun “an irreversible chain reaction in a system geared to launch a counter-strike without human interference.”

So the Russians did not fire back at the States. Petrov’s false alarm was eventually confirmed. And then he was drummed out of the military for disobeying orders.

I guess that has nothing to do with hockey, but it kind of has everything to do with hockey. Thirty years ago today, a normal guy made sure that world would spin another day just by using his noggin and his heart. That’s worth remembering, I think.

I was born that same day thirty years ago, so I think about this a lot. As Craig Ferguson might say, it was a triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Earth needs more of that.

P.S. – My new album is now available. It’s called Single Point of Failure, and you can download it for free. Thanks.

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6 Days Out: We’re Streaming Juniors and NCAA Hockey

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Your boy Fedor Fedin is all over the Caps Prospect beat, which we’ll be dialing up more than a few notches this season. RMNB has bought streaming access to the OHL, WHL, and a bunch of college teams. We’ll be coming at you with highlights and updates from games featuring Riley Barber (Miami University); Andre Burakovsky (Erie); Tom Wilson (Plymouth or, well, maybe here I guess); and a bunch of other dear, young bucks for you to fawn over at the next camp or even sooner.

There’s a lot to look forward to– both for the Caps and RMNB. And we’re dropping a fair bit of change on this, so you better appreciate it!

 

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Washington Capitals starting goaltender Braden Holtby jumped on the team’s twitter account this afternoon to answer questions from fans for about an hour. Some of the responses were funny, like how Holtby thinks Alex Ovechkin is the worst dressed player on the team. Some responses were sweet, like how he played goalie because his dad did.

Check out the full Q/A below. It’s fascinating. And while you do that, I’m going to go ice my hand because it’s cramping from all the copying and pasting I did.

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During the mess that was Monday’s brawl-filled Capitals-Bruins game, one play jumped out at me.

With the Caps on the powerplay, defenseman Connor Carrick got the puck. He was the lone guy on the point — with Mikhail Grabovski at his right and Troy Brouwer to his left. Bruins veteran Daniel Paille went after Carrick, thinking he could cause the youngster, playing one of the hardest positions in hockey– powerplay quarterback, to cough up the puck or surrender the blue line.

What would you expect from a 19-year-old on this play? Keeping the puck in the zone and dumping it in would be satisfactory, but that’s not what Carrick did. Instead, he faked an easy pass to Brouwer and then backhanded the puck to Grabovski. No one on the ice except Carrick seemed to expect that play. He kept the Bruins in their own end with a simple, smart pass– showing NHL-quality poise in the process.

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7 Days Out: Sasha vs Sasha x 5

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The Washington Capitals will play their Metropolitan Division neighbors, the Carolina Hurricanes, five times this season. That means five wacky nights of Alex Semin vs Alex Ovechkin. Greater Sasha and Sasha Minor bashing skulls and chewing bubble gum times five! What will happen? Will Semin take a restraining penalty? Will he smoke cigarettes outside the team bus? Will it be awko taco between Semin and Grabo? Will  Semin get sassed by Troy Brouwer? Let’s hope for yesses across the board.

Game one is coming up soon, and the rest are evenly spaced out through the season:

THU OCT 10, 2013
TUE DEC 3, 2013
FRI DEC 20, 2013
THU JAN 2, 2014
THU APR 10, 2014

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Martin Erat’s Goal Was Actually Michael Latta’s

Michael Latta celebrates a goal. (Photo credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals brought their B-team players to Boston on Monday, but the Boston Bruins brought in their B-team scorekeepers. According to them, the Bruins led shots 38-14. Okay, maybe. But also according to them, the Caps’ third-period goal was scored by Martin Erat and assisted by Nate Schmidt and Mikhail Grabovski.

No. It was Michael Latta‘s. Really. Let’s take a look.

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8 Days Out: Holtbeast or Holtbust?

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Braden Holtby has faced just 1647 shots in his regular-season career. That’s not a lot. In his Vezina-winning season alone, Jim Carey saw nearly as many (1631). Carey, quite famously, flamed out of the league soon after that award-winning season, so what I mean to say is this: we don’t really know how good Holtby is yet.

I’d like to think he’s pretty good. He hasn’t dipped under a .920 save percentage in any regular season. Facing 664 shots in the last two postseasons, Holtby put up a .931 save percentage. His 2012 playoff performance was one of the twenty best ever. That’s baller, but it’s probably unwise to think that’s where he’ll remain.

Braden Holtby is going to get oodles of starts in 2013-14, and he’s gonna face a Saskatchewanian tonne of pucks. Maybe he’s the G.O.A.T. and maybe he’s the next Jim Carey– but after this season, we’re gonna have a much better idea of who beastly Braden Holtby is.

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