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Photo: @subbanator

The Montreal Canadiens’ PK Subban just took a selfie during the Skills Competition. I see Patrice Bergeron, Kris Letang, Cory Schneider, Sophia Jurksztowicz playing with her hair, and… hey, wait a second!

We’re going to need to enhance the right-hand corner of the photo.

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Photo: @WashCaps

First-time all stars Evgeny Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby, and Nicklas Backstrom walked the red carpet ahead of tonight’s Skills Competition at Bridgestone Arena in front of a huge crowd. Kuznetsov once again wore his lucky suit again.

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It’s Michal Neuvirth vs Braden Holtby for the First Time Ever

Wednesday night’s game between the Capitals and the Flyers is significant for two reasons: first, it’s the only Caps game to be played in a thirteen-day period; second, it’s the first time Michal Neuvirth will face the Washington Capitals in a regular season game. Better yet, this is the first time Neuvy will face his weakest competition yet in the opposing net.

We cannot wait.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

On Sunday with the Caps leading the Rangers 3-2, Caps netminder Braden Holtby skated to the bench and pulled himself from the game with 2:18 remaining in the second period. It was a very worrying sight. Holtby, the team’s MVP through 45 games, is a very competitive player and would not voluntarily leave a game unless something major was happening.

Later we learned from the Capitals PR that Holtby left the game due to dehydration.

So just how bad was that dehydration? The Holtbeast talked about the incident with The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan Tuesday after the Caps’ morning skate in Columbus.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

In theory, a legitimately great goaltender playing at the top of their game remains the most valuable chess piece on the board. While the sweetest and most sustainable long-term music is made when all of the figurines up front are working together in perfect harmony, what separates the goalie from the others in importance as they lurk in the background is two-fold: they’ll essentially always be on the ice, and unlike with anyone else there’s ultimately only so much the rest of their teammates can do to shelter them.

Given enough time the puck will eventually expose a lousy netminder, while a dominant stopper will always give their team a chance to stay competitive regardless of how much quality (or more appropriately, lack thereof) there is in front of them. A goalie truly is the ultimate equalizer, either by mopping up mistakes and masking various flaws, or by submarining the efforts of everyone else. That’s not to say that there aren’t players at other positions who can markedly impact those around them, because there undoubtedly are, but it’s remarkable how much a goalie can single-handedly move the needle. It being the position whose performance we can project with the lowest level of certainty year over year is surely ironic, if not somewhat tragic.

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Braden Holtby, who has been arguably the NHL’s best player this season, took himself out at the 17:42 mark of the second period. A minute after Holtby gave up a second goal to the Rangers’ Chris Kreider at 17:28, he skated over to an official during a break in play asking to visit with Caps’ head athletic trainer Greg Schmidt.

After a 30 second talk, Holtby took himself out of the game and slowly went down to the lockerroom. He did not appear to sustain an injury on a save.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

Alex Ovechkin’s 500th goal on Sunday was arguably one of the bigger moments in Washington sports history. And there were so many tiny, wonderful moments contained inside that one, we’re still sorting through them all.

Such as we learned that there is apparently no end to Braden Holtby‘s other-worldly talents. Not only is he currently 19-0-2 in his past 22 games, but he’s also an accomplished jumper. As Ovechkin scored, Holtby managed to jump (in all of his equipment) higher than the entire home bench, before racing onto the ice to celebrate the milestone goal with their captain.

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Braden Holtby is O.K.

Bruce Bennett

Photo: Bruce Bennett

On Thursday night the Capitals bested the Islanders, which was nice, bringing their season record to 30-7-3 and their point pace to an unseemly (and probably unreachable) 129, but that’s not why I asked you here today.

I want to talk to you about Braden Holtby.

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Photo: Washington Capitals

Earlier today, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby were named to the 2016 All-Star Game roster, joining Alex Ovechkin, who was named Metropolitan Division Captain last weekend. This marks the first time since 1985 that the Capitals have had 3 players appointed to the All-Star Game at once.

The team was quick to react to the NHL’s choices. Nicklas has long been considered by Caps fans as All-Star material, but this will be his first time attending the All-Star game. His reaction was priceless.

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Our long national nightmare is over. After eight seasons of being ignored, Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has finally been recognized as what he is: an all star and one of the game’s best players.

On Wednesday, the NHL announced that Backstrom along with goaltender Braden Holtby and head coach Barry Trotz will be joining Alex Ovechkin in Nashville for this year’s three-on-three tournament thing. Holtby hasn’t lost in regulation since December 10, 2015, while Trotz has led the Capitals to the league’s best record.

This will be both Holtby’s and Backstrom’s first all-star game appearance. Backstrom’s first nomination comes in his ninth season pro. Meanwhile, Trotz will coach the Metropolitan Division all stars.

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