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After Thursday’s game, the Washington Capitals announced that Alex Ovechkin would sit out this year’s All-Star Game due to a nagging lower-body injury. Barry Trotz said Ovechkin had been dealing with the issue since mid-November. Ovechkin joked that he aggravated the injury while clearing snow from his house.

If Ovechkin had been dealing with an injury, Ovechkin’s father Mikhail never knew about it.

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

Due to the DC Blizzard canceling both games last weekend, the Capitals were forced to reschedule their Courage Caps night to Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Available while supplies last, the Capitals annually sell specially designed “Courage Caps” shirts and hats to benefit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). To promote it further, players wore the hats during warm-ups.

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Photo: NHL

At media day for the NHL All-Star Game in Nashville, stylish Evgeny Kuznetsov was like a kid in a candy store. After eavesdropping on Nicklas Backstrom’s press conference, Kuznetsov adopted the role of a journalist and asked Backstrom a question.

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Photo: @tom_wilso

Everyone’s favorite Caps roommates, Tom Wilson and Michael Latta, and former roommate and forever brobean Andre Burakovsky, are spending the All-Star break soaking up the sun in the Bahamas.

By the looks of this photo Wilson posted on Instagram today, they’re enjoying some (virgin, no doubt) piña coladas, ab crunches and getting behind on their chest shaving schedules. Wilson captioned the post, “Good vibes good friends ☀️ #bahamatings

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Photo: @WashCaps

With Alex Ovechkin sitting out due to injury, Ovi’s Russian BFF Evgeny Kuznetsov was named to his first NHL All-Star Game. And judging by Kuzy’s suit for media day, the Chelyabinsk native has brought it to Nashville.

And by it, I mean style and class. Kuznetsov wore a desaturated plaid jacket with matching suit pants to the podium. Kuznetsov does not look like a hockey player. No, no.

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Andre Burakovsky Has Awoken From His Slumber

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Photo: Patrick Smith

Andre Burakovsky was one the Caps’ most effective and productive forwards in 2014-15 when he was given the chance to produce. Expectations were high for the Austrian-born Swedish winger entering this season with many people, including myself, expecting great things. And then, nothing happened. Literally, nothing happened. Burakovsky had been invisible for long stretches of games this season, going 25 games without a goal between October 23 and December 30.

When Burakovsky scored on December 30, nothing ceased happening and everything began to happen. That is, the Burakovsky of 2014-15 re-emerged to remind us all to not forget about Dre. In the 12 games since then, and especially in the 10 games since his promotion to the second line, young Dre has shown an increase in confidence and production that leaves reason to believe the dynamic player from last season might be a reliable offensive weapon moving forward in 2015-16.

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nicklas-backstrom

This photo is my everything. (Photo: Patrick Smith)

Caps first-line center Nicklas Backstrom is set to play in his first All-Star Game after years of being an NHL afterthought. The shy Swede has spent the last nine years in the shadow of his more outgoing, future Hall Of Fame line-mate, Alex Ovechkin. Backstrom does not crave the media attention or accolades that comes with being a NHL star even though it’s universally agreed he is one.

Sunday, Backstrom will be introduced on a national stage, taking the ice along with two of his teammates and the rest of the league’s best players. But if anyone thinks Backstrom will change who he is because of the experience, they’d be wrong.

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Sports Illustrated has published Alex Prewitt’s special, behind-the-scenes story on the Capitals. Though, I have to warn you, the article sounds more like it’s describing life at a science lab or a hospital than a hockey team.

We learn about Caps trainers giving players dissolvable tablets of magnesium to improve their brain function and packs of powdered Pedialyte to replenish their electrolytes. There’s mentions of Jay Beagle drinking coconut water, Nate Schmidt eating pears, and Braden Holtby drinking 17 liters of fluid before a game, which includes salt water and a pink electrolyte concoction. Then there’s future Hall of Famer Alex Ovechkin, whose winning formula involves drinking three cans of Coke by game time. Perhaps he was inspired by Dale Hunter’s preferred sports drink?

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burakovsky-goal

Photo: Patrick Smith

The Capitals first game in eight days ended with a deflating 4-3 overtime loss to the FlyersAndre Burakovsky opened the Caps’ scoring and also forced overtime after roofing home a beautiful pass from a dabbing Evgeny Kuznetsov. Jakub Voracek won the game for the Flyers 38 seconds into overtime.

Caps’ first-line center Nicklas Backstrom also scored.

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Photo: Drew Hallowell

TSN’s Bob McKenzie did his annual coach’s poll and I’m now paralyzed by superstitious, jinx-y feelings.

27 of 30 NHL coaches voted in McKenzie’s poll. A staggering 25 of 27 coaches picked the Capitals to come out of the Eastern Conference and play in the Stanley Cup Finals. Two lost souls have Jagr Fever, picking the Florida Panthers to play in a championship series I would refuse to watch.

Meanwhile, the Capitals were heavily favored by coaches to win the Stanley Cup. Washington received 16 votes while Chicago (nine), Los Angeles (one), and Tampa Bay (one) also received consideration.

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