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Twenty years ago, I remember staying up until the wee hours of the morning hoping the Caps could dispatch the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs. Instead Petr Nedvěd ripped a pedestrian shot through traffic to beat Olie Kolzig. After nearly 120 minutes of hockey that night, the Caps lost. The next day I failed my middle school quiz.

Now we’re here. The Caps have lost seven of their eight playoff series all-time against the Pens, but this team is a different breed. The Caps, who “ain’t afraid of no ghosts,” must go through the second best team in the East and the team that has had its number so many times in the past to reach their ultimate goal. The franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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prince-seats

Photo: @mnwild

The world lost a legend this week. In addition to being a virtuoso musician, prolific songwriter, advocate for artist rights, and a generally funky dude, Prince was also a favorite son of Minnesota. Before the Wild were eliminated by the Stars 5-4 on Sunday afternoon, Xcel Energy honored the late great genius.

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Nick Backstrom World Cup of Hockey

The World Cup of Hockey is rolling out its marketing plan and it features Nick Backstrom.

(Squee!)

Wearing his beautiful tre kronor uniform, Backstrom appeared on the “Reg Carling” show for the ad. But Backstrom did not stay long.

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BellemareOrlov

Photo: Matt Slocum

Late in the third period of Game Three, Flyers forward Pierre-Édouard Bellemare delivered a reckless hit on Dmitry Orlov, driving the Capitals defenseman’s head into the end boards. He was assessed a five minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct with a disciplinary hearing scheduled for Tuesday. In the evening, the NHL delivered its verdict.

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BradenHoltbyRobCarrGame2

Photo: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is stopping pucks this postseason at a rate of 98.4 percent. On the other side of the ice, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason is saving just 88.9 percent of shots on net. In Game Two of the first round on Saturday, Holtby turned aside all but one of Philly’s 42 shots. Despite the Capitals getting heavily outplayed at even-strength, they won 4-1.

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Rockville Slim - Unleash the Fury

Remy and Bowser, step aside; I think we’ve got a new best Caps rap jam. From the immensely talented Rockville Slim, we’re happy to debut “Unleash the Fury.”

The scope of this thing is huge. There’s footage of major area ice rinks, some roller derby action, clips with The Horn Guy and Loud Goat, shots from inside the Hirshhorn National Portrait Gallery, plus jabs at the crummy cell phone reception at Verizon Center and our fair city’s football team.

Not to mention, this song is kind of a banger. Those horns are boss. Turn it up.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

The playoffs are known as the second season. Ahead of puck drop on Thursday night, the Caps game entertainment crew put in overtime to overhaul their opening videos for that second season.

In past years, the videos featured rock music and built on design and promotion themes established earlier in the season. This year they’ve added a new layer: sports psychology.

In the pre-opening video, PA Announcer Wes Johnson narrates a stirring speech through a minute-long highlight package. The clip addresses Caps fans’ mental scars from past playoff failures and visualizes success for the 2015-16 postseason. Wes ends with a warning to anyone trying to get in our favorite team’s way: “Our time in now!”

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It’s always good to remember where you came from to motivate you on where you want to go next. The Washington Capitals lost in the second round last season to the New York Rangers after taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. Over the offseason, GM Brian MacLellan brought in TJ Oshie and Justin Williams. He also re-signed Braden Holtby to a five-year deal.

Those moves helped push the Caps over the top and have a historic season.

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Three-time Stanley Cup champion Justin Williams was honored Sunday night at Verizon Center ahead of his 1000th career NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks. Williams received a commemorative crystal from the NHL, a silver stick from the Capitals, and a Scottish golf vacation for two from the players. (A nodding Nicklas Backstrom looked particularly proud of that last one.)

Williams’ was joined on the ice by Caps owner Ted Leonsis and President Dick Patrick; players/scratches Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Brooks Orpik; and Williams’ adorable family — his wife Kelly, his daughter Jade, and his son Jaxon.

The Caps’ commemorative video was sweet. There were cameos from many of Williams’ former and current teammates including Alex Ovechkin (“It’s Ovi”) and Mike Richards. Williams’ family also submitted videos. Justin’s mother Denise poof’d her hair like her son did during the Caps team photo. Justin’s son Jaxon called his father his hero.

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libby-lu-tj-oshie-reunited

When TJ Oshie got traded to the Capitals in early July for Troy Brouwer, Oshie was forced to sever ties with St. Louis, a team he spent roughly a quarter of his life with. Many Blues fans were sad to see the United States Olympian go. None more so than five-year-old Libby Lu, who I’m going to go ahead and say is Oshie’s biggest fan. Lu’s parents recorded her reaction to the news of Oshie’s departure and her breakdown went viral.

Oshie did his part to try and heal her wounds. Oshie surprised Lu during a live interview on SportsCenter and even sent her a tiny Caps jersey. On Saturday, ahead of the his first game back against his former team, Oshie met Lu in the bowels of Scottrade Center. Their interactions are so danged cute and the Caps captured the whole thing.

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