Editor’s note: We don’t always get everything right here at RMNB, and we don’t always have the perspective to deal with the criticism we get. For that reason, we’ve asked Eric Fingerhut to act as an independent critic of our work and to keep us honest and accountable. Here comes the RMNB Ombudsman.

Hi, I’m Eric Fingerhut and you may know me from my incessant (some would even say tiresome) criticism of the Washington Post Sports section. I am the new ombudsman at Russian Machine Never Breaks, which means I’ll be providing a monthly critique of the site — as well as hopefully providing a voice for some of the complaints of readers. What are my qualifications for this new post? Well, I’ve been a fan of the Caps since the days of Guy Charron and Bernie Wolfe, I like to write criticism and, most importantly, Peter and Ian asked me if I’d be interested in the position and I said yes.

So let’s start with how RMNB handled the most controversial move of the Caps’ offseason, the signing of Brooks Orpik to what this website called an “insane” five-year, $27.5 million deal. I think the site’s initial response to the contract was similar to the first reactions of many Caps fans — even the biggest supporters of Brooks Orpik would have to acknowledge that signing a 34-year-old defensive defenseman to a five –year deal for more than $5 million each year in a salary-capped sport is a questionable move. And RMNB backed up their strong opinion with solid analysis — Peter had a great post on the day of the signing contrasting what Ted Leonsis and Brian MacLellan had said just a few weeks earlier about things such as the importance of puck possession and the danger in signing aging veterans to long-term contracts, and then noted how the Brooks Orpik signing seemed to undermines everything they had so recently professed to believe.  A later post speculating on how the defense might line up – and how someone is going to make lots of money to play third-pair minutes – was also quite interesting.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

With the final preseason game in the books for the Capitals, the team’s opening night line-up is shaping up: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Eric Fehr will be on the top line. Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, and Troy Brouwer will man the second. Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich, and Joel Ward will be on the third. The fourth line looks set, though scrappy free-agree invitee Liam O’Brien looks to have earned his way into a contract with Hershey or a two-way deal. Michael Latta, though, appears ready to play alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Chris Brown on the fourth line. That might change when Jay Beagle comes back from injury.

“That would be a question for Mac[Lellan],” Trotz said of O’Brien. “He’s been as good as anybody especially in that role.”

“He’s a player that demanded to be noticed,” the coach added.

19-year-old rookie Andre Burakovsky appears to have also made the team, beating top prospect Kuznetsov to center the team’s second line. At least initially.

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Alex Ovechkin is at the Nats Game and You’re Not

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From @rpchandler

The Washington Nationals are currently up 1-0 over the San Francisco Giants in game 2 of the NLDS.  I’m here in Frederick watching from my couch, but your boy and Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is at Nats Parks taking in the game. Twitter person @rpchandler tweeted the photo above.

Ovi shared video from the start of the game.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

In preseason action on Thursday, the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the shootout. A who’s who of Capitals players took the ice. A separate who’s who of Capitals sat on the club level, watching the game in suits. Some even interacted with fans.

RMNB Photographer Extraordinaire, Amanda Bowen, captured all of this and more. The pics are stunning, so you pretty much need to see them.

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Photo: Aly D.

On Friday, the Washington Capitals took a break from the norm and traveled up to Navy’s Annapolis campus for a team-building event. The Caps got a tour of the Naval Academy from the university’s hockey team, ate lunch in the dining hall with midshipmen, and even held an open practice at McMullen Ice Arena.

Reader Aly D., a hockey player herself, had the chance to attend practice and see her favorite team skate. After the players left the ice, she met basically the entire team, taking selfies with Mike Green, Braden Holtby, and Michael Latta.

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george-mcphee

Photo: Dave Sandford

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun released a fascinating feature on former Capitals General Manager George McPhee and former Penguins GM Ray Shero, which you must read right here right now because you have nothing else better to do.

So what did we learn today?

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Cover via @WashCaps

Tuesday morning, the Washington Capitals released the latest cover of Sports Illustrated (at least for this region).

It features Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.

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Photo: @areva8

On Monday afternoon, we learned a Russian teen named Denis got this Alex Ovechkin tattoo on his arm. The story broke on the bro-iest of brosites to ever eat pineapple pizza, Barstool Sports. The story spread like wildfire, showing up on Puck Daddy and CBS Sports.

When you’re a bro, sometimes you miss stuff right under your nose. Barstool missed the coolest part of the story: Ovechkin himself not only liked the photo, he also commented on it in Russian. Whaaaaa.

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Ovechkin Fist Pump

Photo: clydeorama

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the preseason. It is literally exactly how you’d imagine it.

Powerplay goal? Check.
At or near the left circle? Check.
The goalie knew it was coming and still couldn’t stop it? Check.

Look at this ish.

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

On a bright, sunny Tuesday at Nats Park, the Washington Capitals held their grand Winter Classic jersey reveal in front of a bunch of media and select Caps season ticket holders. Not only did Caps Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby model the new sweaters on stage (oh man, I love those ties), a bunch of other news and details about the event were released too. We learned that we will actually be able to see the all-access Winter Classic show produced by EPIX, the Russian machine’s fashion sense is still one of a kind, and the history behind the new Caps classic logo is pretty darn cool.

But the most interesting part of the day was having some of the biggest NHL personalities on the same podium modeling all this cool new stuff. Amanda Bowen, who’s had quite a busy first week with RMNB, has your photos from the event.

(Please someone get me one of those toques.)

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