The Apple Watch is a Hot Item in the Caps Locker Room

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Wednesday morning, I set off to Kettler Capitals Iceplex on a serious mission. I was on deadline, working on a story on Braden Holtby for The New York Times. I paced around the rink until the locker room opened. When Karl Alzner, Holtby’s longtime teammate, became available, I prepared to pepper him with questions about Holtby’s breakout season, but Karl had other ideas.

“Hey, I gotta ask *you* a question!” Alzner exclaimed, pointing out the baby blue Apple Watch on my wrist. “How did you get that so fast?”

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When Brouwer Pouwer Goes to 11

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

A few minutes before Evgeny Kuznetsov chipped a nifty no-angle shot past Jaroslav Halak to give the Capitals a dramatic game-7 victory over the New York Islanders, Troy Brouwer had his own chance to give the Caps a lead.

Midway through the third period, Isles forward Nikolay Kulemin attempted an ill-advised, cross-ice pass to Matt Donovan. Brouwer intercepted it, settled the puck, and set off the Brouwitzer. But Halak Halak’d, and Brouwer took out his rage on his poor hockey stick.

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Round Two: Wrangling the Rangers (RMNB Podcast)

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Good morning, Caps fans. Ian and I got together last night to discuss the Caps’ seven-game victory over the New York Islanders, the upcoming series against the New York Rangers, Ovi’s bid for the Hart, and a heck of a lot more.

Plus, I spoke with Pete the Retailer (Star Wars Minute) and Adam Santiago (Your Favorite Album) about the perspective from New York, New York.

Enjoy!

The RMNB Podcast is on iTunes. If you enjoy it, please subscribe and rate us.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov’s New iPhone Case

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Photo: Chris Gordon

We’ve been covering Evgeny Kuznetsov for the last five years with unequaled vigor. From the wacky celebrations to the KHL/NHL waffling, Kuznetsov’s been the focus of our website and my personal favorite hockey player even before he crossed the ocean last year. So relaying this next story is wild.

Before game seven on Monday, RMNB’s Chris Gordon was asked at practice through a spokesman where he got his new iPhone case. The case is white and has the RMNB logo on it. The person inquiring was Evgeny Kuznetsov.

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James Dean day dream. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

When Barry Trotz took over, some fans were afraid the Capitals would switch to a tight checking, boring style of play, wringing the joy out of watching players like Alex Ovechkin. Far from it. Tonight, Ovechkin was nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the league’s Most Valuable Player award, for the fifth time, having won the award three times before. Though at the tail end of his 20s, Ovechkin has continued to be league’s premier sniper. He ran away with NHL’s goal scoring race by over 10 goals, netting 53 tallies on his way to his third consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy. Ovechkin also finished fourth in the league in points while his 25 power play goals provided the cornerstone for the NHL’s best man advantage unit.

The Hart Trophy is voted on at the end of the regular season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, with the winners to be announced at the Las Vegas Awards ceremony after the season. The other Hart nominees were Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and John Tavares of the New York Islanders.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott/Washington Capitals

After the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders 2-1 in game seven, Alex Ovechkin had a person that he specifically wanted to see. According to Melissa Schaab, that person was her daughter Ann. Through Capitals officials, Ovi arranged for Ann to come down to the locker room and celebrate the series-clinching win with the team. Ovechkin gave Ann a huge hug upon seeing her. Melissa says the whole thing was a huge surprise.

A Capitals spokesman tells RMNB that Ovechkin wanted to see Ann regardless of if the team won or lost.

Ann, as you’ll recall, is the 10-year-old hockey player with Down’s Syndrome that Ovechkin took on a date (after being boldly asked out!) earlier in the season. An inspired Ovechkin spent the majority of his All-Star appearance trying to win a car for Ann and her special hockey team, the Washington Ice Dogs. A few weeks later he delivered it personally.

Ann has come to a few games since then with her mom and friends. On Monday, Mama Schaab and her daughter got tickets for the game seven. Ann’s excitement was overwhelming as soon as they entered DC.

As they left the parking deck near Verizon Center, Ann saw the double decker bus emblazoned with Caps logos and Ovechkin imagery. According to her mother, Ann “started chasing it.” Melissa added, “Ann ran for a block. The Red Rockers noticed her and they stopped the bus and let her on.”

Ann took photos with everyone, including Slapshot.

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Steve Dangle of Sportsnet (yeah, of Sportsnet; didn’t you hear? Bloggers be gettin’ paid) is cutting fun video recaps of every playoff series. On Tuesday he cut one for the Caps-Isles series, which everyone knew would go seven games. While Steve is a dedicated Toronto fan (and I’m using “fan” as a polite euphemism for basically Robert Deniro as Curly Renard in the movie The Fan), he had nothing but nice things to say about the series.

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Before the Washington Capitals began their first round series against the Islanders, Caps players received hats embroidered with the text, My Man. From this we learned about Alex Ovechkin‘s bizarre tendency to yell the phrase to his teammates.

“It’s kind of a thing when a guy scores or does something good someone says, ‘My Man,'” Karl Alzner said  a few weeks ago. “When a guy walks into the locker room: ‘My Man.’ It’s kind of like a you’re the man type of thing.”

On Monday, after the Capitals defeated the Islanders in game seven, Ovechkin found his new line-mate Joel Ward and congratulated him the only way he knew how.

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Photo credit: Jared Silber

So, it’s the Rangers again. For the fifth time in seven seasons, the Washington Capitals will square off against the folks from Madison Square Garden in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. These series have produced signature moments in Capitals history, such as Sergei Fedorov‘s game seven winner in 2009, and crushing defeats, like when the Rangers outlasted the Capitals by just one goal in game seven of the second round in 2012, booking a spot in the Eastern Conference Final. But, as is their pattern this year, the Washington Capitals will tell you this team is different. They don’t pay attention to the past.

“All that old stuff, get rid of it,” head coach Barry Trotz, in his first year with the Capitals, said. “Let’s look to a new era. Let’s build something.”

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Here’s Your Schedule for the Second Round

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Image: Washington Capitals

There’s still the small matter of the Wings versus the Bolts to be settled, but the NHL has already announced a provisional schedule for the second round of the playoffs.

The series begins Thursday night at 7:30 on the road at Madison Square Garden. Game two is a nooner on Saturday, with the Caps returning to Verizon Center on Monday and Wednesday.

For some reason, the NHL has marked games five through seven as “if needed,” but this is the Washington Capitals. They’re gonna be needed.

More details under the jump.

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