On Wednesday, Braden Holtby spoke to the media for the last time this season at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The next day he went to his DC-area home, packed up his things, and got in his car and drove. And drove. And then drove some more.

Three days later, after making a couple of pit stops along the way (including one in St. Cloud, Minnesota where Matt Hendricks played college hockey), Holtby arrived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Google estimates the Holtbeast had to travel 31 hours and 2,006 miles in his car to make it back home. Here’s what it looks like on a map.

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

Yet again. (Photo credit: USA Today)

Alex Ovechkin sat on the bench, glaring down at the ice with his head between his hands. He looked defeated, because he was. His sixth visit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs was about to end in another disappointing loss, after another year failing to meet expectations.

After the game, Ovi stood in front the white board at the far end of the Capitals locker room and went off.

I am not saying there was a phone call from [the NHL], but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings; you know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit.

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In game six on Sunday night, the Capitals did not receive a single power play despite a few egregious fouls by the New York Rangers. One of the worst missed calls came in the first period, when Mathieu Perreault was decked into the boards by Michael Del Zotto.

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Steve Oleksy has never been considered a top prospect. In fact, before he made his NHL debut for the Washington Capitals in March, Oleksy played for seven different minor league teams in five years. It’s been a long and often painful road Oleksy has traveled, one that was made even longer because of Braden Holtby.

You see, earlier in the season when Holtby and Oleksy played together in AHL Hershey, the sassy goaltender from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan decided to play a prank on the new Bears defenseman.

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Despite a painfully slow start, Alex Ovechkin has had one of the greatest seasons of his career. He scored more goals than any other player, earning his third Rocket Richard trophy in six seasons. He finished third in the league in points. He led his team to a division title after being mired in dead last a month into the season. Ovechkin’s play is the reason the Capitals are in the playoffs — without his success, this would have been a lost season for Washington.

Since he has been so crucial to the accomplishments of his team, he deserves consideration for the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the guy “judged to be the most valuable to his team.” However, many of the writers who vote for the award are casting their ballots for somebody else — namely Sidney Crosby or John Tavares.

The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, disagrees with that.

Monday afternoon, Gretzky called in to Hockey Night in Canada’s afternoon radio show hosted by Rob Pizzo and Elliotte Friedman. Wayne talked about what teams he thinks will succeed in the playoffs and gave Ovechkin the ultimate endorsement, naming him and Jonathan Toews as the two people he’d like to see win the Hart trophy. He also praised the skills of first year head coach Adam Oates.

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Matt Hendricks Fights Adam McQuaid

Photo credit: Brian Babineau

Saturday afternoon against the rival Boston Bruins, a chippy game stayed somewhat calm until the end of the second period. That’s when Brad Marchand goaded Mike Ribeiro into his first NHL fight and all hell broke loose. Matt Hendricks responded by dropping the mitts with Bruins first-line forward Nathan Horton, bloodying his face.

In the third period after Hendricks exited the box, Bruins heavyweight enforcer Shawn Thornton asked Hendy to drop the gloves several times. The Blaine, Minnesota native refused. That’s when, as Karl Alzner described it, “the biggest joke I’ve ever seen” occurred. Thorton shadowed Hendricks, shoving him and begging him to drop his mitts. Then Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid cornered him along the boards, forcing Hendricks to pick one of them to dose-e-doe with.

So what did Hendy think of all the drama? Below are his full remarks after the Capitals’ morning skate Sunday.

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Neil Greenberg on the Tony Kornheiser Show


Washington Post and ESPN writer Neil Greenberg talked Caps hockey on the Tony Kornheiser Show on ESPN 980 this morning. The RMNB alum killed it. I considered putting a bombastic quote in the subject of this post like “Greenberg: This is not a good team” or “Neil Says [Ovechkin]‘s No Crosby”, but I really think you will be better served by reading or hearing the whole segment, which I freaking transcribed below instead of actually enjoying my lunch.

Tony and Neil cover a lot of topics in the 15-minute segment: Neil’s brush with the Cup in ’94, what has caused Alex Ovechkin’s decline and what we can expect from his future, Mike Milbury’s assessment of Ovi vs. reality, Adam Oates’ talent as a coach, and what the future holds for the Washington Capitals. I think this is essential reading/listening for Caps fans, so get to it.

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Happy Sasha. (Photo credit: @megab23)

Ahead of tonight’s reunion game against the Caps, Alex Semin sat down with Carolina Hurricanes color guy Tripp Tracy for a two-part English interview. It’s totally awkward.

For those worrying Tripp would nail Semin with incisive, hard-hitting questions like “Are your shoes comfortable?“, you may now relax. Instead, Tracy tossed up softballs like “What do you think of your teammates?” and “Do you enjoy Carolina?”

Hey, you guys don’t think there was any collusion between Tracy and Carolina PR following Troy Brouwer’s unkind words, do you? Naw! Tracy probably came up with “your teammates are clearly the most important relationship to you” all on his own.

With immense thanks to welshhockeyfan and Tom Kaz, videos and transcript are below.

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Maria Kirilenko and Ovi's father Mikhail celebrate Sasha's hat trick

Maria with her Slapshot stuffed animal. Dad gives thumbs up. (GIF by welshhockeyfan)

Attending Saturday’s Washington Capitals game, Alex Ovechkin’s fiancée Maria Kirilenko got a special treat. Ovi scored a hatty for the first time in over two years.

While CSN Washington didn’t pan to Kirilenko sitting in the lower bowl, the Devils broadcast on MSG drank from the Ovi-Kirilenko well a lot. They zoomed in on her celebrating with Ovi’s father Mikhail (giving the thumbs up) after Ovechkin’s third goal. MSG’s Deb Placey interviewed Kirilenko during the second period, after Ovi scored his first goal of the night.

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Last week, Ted Leonsis spread his wings by launching Monumental Network, a site  to aggregate all the Caps, Wizards, Mystics, and Verizon Center coverage his company produces. They’ve got original reporting and a network of blogs to cover the living heck out of each team.

Earlier this week, Casey Phillips, Monumental’s digital correspondent crowded in on RMNB’s beat with a story that we should have had. After Cosmopolitan Magazine named Mike Green the sexiest player in the NHL, the Monumental crew asked the team who they thought was truly the most handsome guy around.

The answers will amaze you. Or maybe they won’t. I mean, you know they’re gonna say Brooks, right?

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