Carolina Hurricanes Preview: Point Break

Doug Johnson: Puck Buddy, dog owner, hockey fan, public intellectual. Follow @PuckBuddys.  

The Pregame: So you gotta give credit where it’s due. Whatever your political leanings (ours is usually doubled over, holding our stomachs, in the loo) that ol’ Newton Leroy Gingrich gets points for some sassy thinking. Seems then-Speaker Stay-Puft, some six years into an affair with a young House staffer (and Tiffany connoisseur) named Calista, basically told his wife Marianne that she would need to “share” him with his mistress. (There we are in the loo again.) At least, this according to ex-wife Marianne – no, not the one he divorced while she was in the hospital, that was a totes different wife! – who basically told Newt to get stuffed. He dumps her, marries the mistress who promptly begins a powerful benziodiazepine regimen (we’re making that part up) and now all is lollipops, the end.

We bring this up, in part because it’s still a larf-riot, but also because we’re doing some sassy thinkin’ of our own. Let’s just say, completely hypothetical here, that you’re the GM of a professional sports team with loads of potential but some underperforming talent. What to do? You want to keep him; sure, who doesn’t? But maybe you could also find a comely, pliable team somewhere else that may just want to share a little of his upkeep and tending while making you look genius. Everyone wins, right?

And thus American civic life dies a muffled death.

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Tuomo Ruutu is a pest. From picking on Nicklas Backstrom to giving Dennis Wideman world’s grossest injury, the dude is flat out annoying. So in the third period of the Caps’ 2-1 win over Carolina, Alex Ovechkin — after losing an edge — decided to take his anger out on the 28-year-old Finn. As Ruutu dumped the puck in the Capitals’ zone, Ovi leveled him into the boards with his titanium left shoulder. The hit was so powerful, in fact, that it took out both Ruutu and the linesman beside him. After the officials disallowed Laich’s second period goal, this is the kind of accident that’s nice to watch over and over on replay.

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Vokoun isn’t sure when this hug is going to end. (Via carrotbazooka.tumblr.com)

Coming into tonight’s game, the Capitals have won six straight at home. During that stretch, they’ve outscored their opponents 19-7 and have never trailed. Their recent dominance in front of their home fans has put the Caps back into contention for *gasp* — not only a playoff spot — but the Southeast Division lead as well. In fact, with a win tonight, the Capitals overtake world-beating Florida.

After a scoreless first period, Brooks Laich Alex Semin started the scoring off in the second period with a high, short-side blast by Cam Ward. 2:46 later, Jussi Jokienen knocked in a pinballing puck on the power play. Dmitry SCOARlov scored his first NHL goal in the third period. And that, my friends, would be the game-winner. Caps beat Canes 2-1.

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Caps beat Canes 5-1, Cody Eakin Scores First NHL Goal

Photo credit: Gerry Broome

The Washington Capitals last met the Carolina Hurricanes at home for the first game of the season. That game established the 2011-12 Caps as the scoring force we’ve been waiting for. Tonight was more of the same. More delightful, delightful same.

Right after the faceoff, Anthony Stewart redirected a Jay Harrison shot that Neuvirth wasn’t ready for. Jeff Halpern dove for his goal in the second. Soon after, Marcus Johansson provided a gorgeous saucer to Troy Brouwer, who scored effortlessly. John Carlson slapped a big one home on the power play. Cody Eakin scoared his first NHL goal halfway through the third thanks to a smart pass from Alex Semin. Alex Ovechkin slid the puck gracefully to points-leader Nick Backstrom, who executed the layup. Caps beats Canes 5-1.

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Chad La Rose

Chad LaRose (Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck)

Editor’s note: Doug Johnson of Puck Buddys writes for RMNB. Tweet at his face.

The Post-Mortem: So, everyone happy?  At least those with Ward and Backstrom shirseys?  Luv U Caps, but we’re tired of writing the “Tale of Two Caps” (See: Hassett, Peter) – you know, the bedraggled guttersnipes everyone wrote off after the 1st period who then come back to show their true mettlel? Memo to Bruce Boudreau and team: We don’t need drama. We don’t want drama.  Please, enough of the plucky comebacks by the adorable yet overlooked (*cough Nicky cough Greenie*) boy heros. Dickens did it before, and better. (Although, Coach, you’d make a memorable Fezziwig). Memo to Ovi:  “In addition to Russian, we’re learning how to lip read. And then we’ll learn how to lip read Russian. быть осторожным!

The Caps had a couple of busy days off after the Ducks game. While Ovi was managing ‘Bench-gate,’ Brooksie, Sasha, and Coach Woods visited the Kent Gardens Elementary for a hockey clinic in the school gym. They had Air Slapshot in tow – if ‘tow’ is the right word to describe dragging along an inflatable mascot (which looked like it had become untethered from a Pink Floyd show). The video and the pics from the day were adorable. However, reports from our McLean bureau (and the school nurse’s office) tell a different story – three school kids ended up on the wrong end of some O zone penalties. Neither the players or coach addressed ‘Stick-gate,’ but Sasha was heard muttering something in Russian (“Чувствительная кожа”), as he was hurried away from school grounds.

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Alex Semin goal

After taking a great feed from John Carlson, Alex Semin scores the Capitals first goal of the season on a breakaway.

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

It was hard not to notice Alex Semin on Opening Night. Not only did he score the Capitals first goal of the season on a breakaway, he also made his presence known physically with a big hit on Bryan Allen. Semin, who had one of his necklaces ripped off in the melee sparked by the questionable check, was given a two-minute minor for boarding. On Sunday, Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times reported that Sasha Minor will not face any disciplinary action from the NHL.

After the game, Slava Malamud of Sport-Express caught up with Semin to get his thoughts on the Caps victory, his broken jewelry, and celebrating his goals with a smile. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation below.

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Screengrab via @TFGot.

In the Capitals thrilling 4-3 overtime-victory against division rival Carolina, there were several bigs hits of note. Nicklas Backstrom rocked Jiri Tlusty’s world with a fantastic counter-hit and Alex Semin decked Hurricanes Bryan Allen at the end of regulation.

While Backstrom’s hit was totally clean (shoulder to chest), Sasha Minor’s hit was borderline dirty and 2,000 percent unnecessary. Don’t believe me? Check out the video.

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Mike Green Game Over

Photo credit: Nick Wass

It’s been a long time. The Washington Capitals are back in action, opening up their 2011-2012 season at home. Hosting the Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps have a lot of drama in their rear view, and a lot of questions to answer. Goalie drama, Alex Ovechkin’s return to glory, Sasha cares, the new guys, offensive doldrums. You’ve heard it all before. Get ready for some answers.

In the second period Eric Staal put the puck past a sucked-out Michal Neuvirth. Hooked up by a smart outlet pass from John Carlson, Alex Semin guided the puck in to tie it up. That near-goal Jason Chimera breakaway thing happened for the billionth time, but Jason finally hit his target. But Eric Staal tied it up early in the third by waiting in the right spot. On a climactic 5 on 3, gorgeous Brooks Laich returned the rebound. But with the extra skater, Jussi Jordache Jokinen snuck one past Neuvy. In a penalty-ridden OT, Mike Green served the puck into– and beyond– Boucher’s love-making region. Game over. Caps win 4-3 (OT).

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[Editor’s note: We are proud to welcome writers Craig Brownstein and Doug Johnson to the Russian Machine! You might already know Craig and Doug from their gay-focused hockey blog, Puck Buddys. You are hereby required to follow them on Twitter: @PuckBuddys. Puck Buddys is increasing its scope from Caps-centric coverage to the whole NHL, so you’ll see C+D here a lot, especially for game previews. Please give them a very warm welcome and let us know if they break anything expensive.]

And now, a new season kicks off with an ominous sign of the Hockpocalypse – teh gays are now writing about the Caps for RMNB: a risky collaboration between the established Russian royalty (or oligarchy), and the gauche, nouveau riche upstarts.  The cheeky bastards of the hockey world will occasionally share insightful analysis, anatomy lessons, and keen fashion sense with a wider cross-section of the Caps fanbase. The questions on everyone’s lips?  1) Who’s going to embarrass the other first?  Answer: We’re demonstrating that right now. 2) How did RMNB end up with us? Answer: Dave Nichols of District Sports Page already grabbed all the talented free agents.

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Neuvirth lets in the game's only goal

The game’s only goal. Whatever. (Photo credit: Alan Diaz)

The Capitals will face the Rangers -- who won 5-2 Saturday -- in the first round of the playoffs. (Photo credit: Jonathan Klein)

The Capitals will face the Rangers -- who won 5-2 Saturday -- in the first round of the playoffs. (Photo credit: Jonathan Klein)

The game that impacted the Capitals the most Saturday night didn’t involve Washington at all. In fact, it took place 13 hours away from them in Raleigh, North Carolina.

With the New York Rangers beating the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Saturday afternoon, the Carolina Hurricanes had to get the victory Saturday night to tie New York at 93 standings points. By virtue of holding the tie-breaker Carolina would pick-up the eighth and final playoff spot, getting themselves a date with the Caps.
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