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We’ve sometimes lobbed criticism at Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates, but one thing we can agree on is that his handling of Alex Ovechkin since being hired has been excellent.

Oates has reinvigorated the Caps captain, helping him to win the MVP the last season. Under Oates’ tutelage, Ovechkin has grown as a player and a scorer.

On Wednesday when asked about the mountains of criticism for Ovechkin after Russia failed to medal in their own Olympics, Oates — in my opinion — had one of his finest moments as a Capital.

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Team Russia Knocked Out: Reactions and Sad Photos

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Photo: AP

It started off so well. Ilya Kovalchuk scored early in the first period of Russia’s quarterfinals game against Finland, but Finland fought back (as good teams do), scoring twice later in the period, including a goal from septuagenarian Teemu Selanne. Finland added another goal in the second period. Russia couldn’t come back. They lost 3-1.

This is no ordinary loss. After getting blown out by Canada in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, this was supposed to be different. Russia was supposed to medal. They were supposed to win gold in front of their home fans.

Instead: sadness, disappointment, blame. Again.

We’ll be updating this post with images and quotes from the players as they come in.

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Photo: Winslow Townson

Team Russia defeated Norway 4-0 on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals tomorrow against Finland. Despite leading his countrymen in shots again today (4), Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin did not score. He hasn’t tallied since Russia’s first game and first goal of the Olympics against Slovenia – a drought of three games – though he leads all of Team Russia in shots fired (21).

Ovechkin spoke after the game to RBC.ru and was asked about the lack of goal scoring. He also had intense words about playing Finland.

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Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Photo: Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images

Yesterday, after the United States beat Team Russia in the shootout 3-2, there was a handshake line — which let’s all agree is one of the best traditions in hockey. During the Sochi Olympics, opposing players have high-fived each other at the conclusion of every preliminary round game, an act normally reserved for elimination.

Because of this, we get to see what I’m going to ahead now and declare the second best Caps related photo of the Olympics (Nicky and Mojo biking together will always be first). Here, wonderfully captured by the IIHF’s Jeff Vinnick, John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin shake hands after the game. They look amused.

Thanks to Morgan M. for instagramming the photo, and @MikeBradley27 for originally posting.

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Photo: Jayne Kamin

Alex Ovechkin and Team Russia played John Carlson and Team USA Saturday morning. The game was an instant classic, the best of the Olympic tournament thus far. Russia lost 3-2 in the shootout after TJ Oshie scored the deciding tally on Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole.

Ovechkin spoke to R-Sport after the game.

“Today’s game was even worthy of a final,” he said to Alexander Rogulev. “It was a good game, unfortunately we lost in the shootout.”

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Photo: @mkirilenko

Since we’re nearing the end of Valentine’s Day, let’s end on something cute, shall we? Thursday, during Russia’s 5-2 win over Slovenia, Alex Ovechkin‘s fiancee, Maria Kirilenko, was watching the game in the stands like normal.

What she was wearing was a bit remarkable though. The day before, the Russian language Sport-Express spoke to Maria and asked her if she’d be wearing an Ovi jersey. She did at Dynamo games. You’d think the answer to this question would be simple, but it’s not when you’re dealing with famous athletes who have big-money equipment deals with even more famous athletic companies.

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Photo: Winslow Townson

Alex Ovechkin scored a goal and an assist in his first game of the Sochi Olympics. Russia won handily, defeating Slovenia 5-2.

Despite the win and his own personal production, Ovechkin wasn’t satisfied with the game. Russia struggled in the second period and watched helplessly as Slovenia’s Žiga Jeglič scored twice. Those goals made the game a tight, one-goal affair heading into the third period.

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The line on Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin goes a little like this: he must win gold or it’s all been a failure.

And yet all we’ve been hearing the last few days is how content Ovi is with the pressure and how excited he is to play. He finally put deed to word on Thursday, scoring on his very first shift of the tournament.

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John Carlson Has a Patriotic Olympic Stick Too (Photos)

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Photo: Jayne Kamin

If there’s one thing about the Olympics (other than massive rights fees), it’s all the custom swag participants get. I’d become a cross-country sprinter if it meant getting free Russian flag skis.

The practice also extends to hockey. We’ve already seen Alex Ovechkin‘s majestic Russian flag skates and sticks made custom for Sochi.

But there’s a another Cap rocking another red, white, and blue: John Carlson. Seems like he’s brought his own American flag-branded sticks to the Games. I first saw these in the locker room at Verizon Center, but was unable to snap a picture before the equipment dudes packed up the gear. Now we’ve got photos of Carlson putting the sticks to work at Team USA’s practice on Tuesday.

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ovi-olympics

Photo: @Ovi8

Alex Ovechkin‘s second full day of the Sochi Olympics was another busy one. Like Monday, Ovi did a whole lot of press, speaking with the media in a press conference with Team Russia. Unlike Monday, he actually got to take in the sights as well, attending some figure skating with fiancee Maria Kirilenko and hobnobbing with other Russian sports royalty.

We’ve got your full recap right here.

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