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[Ed. note: Jason Rogers, Sperm Whale captain and hockey Hemingway, is back for your amuse bouche. But be warned: do not take his insights as mere foam on the web: so far, he's been more spot on than Vinnie "Legs" Baggodonnouts. You are warned. Follow him now here. Thus endeth the editor's finger-wagging.]

Sasha needs an image consultant.

Sasha needs an image consultant.

The Early Morning Skate: Like a piece of old taffy or an oft-abused Slinky, this season is reaching its final stretch. The Washington Capitals sit a few points out from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and on Tuesday the good guys from DC take I-95 South (avoid the mixing bowl!)  to North Carolina to face the Staal & Staal Traveling Circus, featuring “Sasha the Incredible Human Enigma?”

This will be the fourth of five meetings this season between our Caps and the Tropical Depressions, and it is time for this Washington team to decide whether it wants to spend May playing hockey or golf. Watch and learn.

The Mourning Skate: What is the length of one point? Is it the width of one puck crossing or not crossing the goal line? Is it the size of one of John “Towelie” Carlson’s skate edges slipping and giving the other team a breakaway? Is it the distance between wherever the first round of the playoffs is held and Jeff “Sgt.” Schultz’s favorite local golf course?

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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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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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