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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis during an event last week in Southeast DC. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

It’s been 40 years since the Capitals first took the ice in the 1974-75 season. The team has been celebrating the occasion incessantly, honoring the franchise’s best players with video tributes that air every night at Verizon Center and when CSN+ doesn’t have anyone in studio for the late game.

Despite the trumpeting of their former players, the Capitals will not be hosting an alumni game prior to the 2015 Winter Classic, which heretofore had been a tradition. According to the NHL, this was a decision made by the Caps. Speaking to Capitals season ticket holders last week, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly suggested one possible reason for the move: the League didn’t agree to a deal with Nationals Park until September.

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Caps beat Hawks 3-2! The Capitals Won a Game!

Freaking great GIF by @myregularface

The Chicago Blackhawks were wayyyyy better than the Washington Capitals for the first half of Friday night. Like, it wasn’t even close. It was like David and Goliath except if Goliath mercilessly beat David to death with a club. But then the Caps herded a little big mo’ and got the bounces that had been eluding them for the last two weeks.

It was ugly at first. Get this. Marian Hossa beat Matt Niskanen along the boards and set up Brandon Saad for a lovely goal on a two-on-one. Then, Duncan Keith got a rebound for a power-play goal from the Ovi spot to make it 2-0.

Okay, now get THIS, ’cause this all happened inside five minutes. First,Andre Burakovsky called his own number on a breakaway late in the second, scoring with a dart to the high corner. Then, Marcus Johansson tied it up with a spinny shot that took some bounces. Finally, Matt Niskanen release a long b0mb from the blue line that had plenty of support up front– namely Joel Ward, who tipped it in.

The third period was all Hawks as the Caps played prevent defense in the same manner as your parents played prevent defense about nine months before you were born. Except this time it worked.

Caps beat Hawks 3-2! THE CAPITALS HAVE WON A GAME!

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Caps at Hawks Pregame: Crash the Net, Must the Win

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Elite defenseman. Elite toque. (Photo: Caps Instagram)

October 25th. I remember it well. It was a simpler time, back when the Caps still won hockey games, children spoke only when spoken to, and women knew their place.

Since then everything has gone wrong. Personally, I blame Congress.

(And volatile shooting percentages endemic to small sample sizes, particularly for a team that is not sufficiently aggressive during 5v5 when leading.)

Alright. Road game against the Chicago Blackhawks, who might be the best team in the league (Neil has them fourth in his power rankings). After losing to the Coyotes and the Flames, it would only make sense for the Caps to beat these guys. right?

Late game. 8:30 PM on CSN Plus. Grab a beer and watch with me. From your couch. Alone. Forever alone.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 4-5-3 54.4% 97.8 29.3% 79.1%
Chicago Blackhawks 7-5-1 56.1% 99.5 18.9% 92.7%

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Ovechkin Toews

On any given night, there’s a fanboy somewhere, watching a hockey game and saying “Well, we shoulda won that, it was just a fluke we didn’t.”

Caps fans have been saying that a lot lately. Weird puck squirts. Dominating play but no points. Mystical karmic forces aligned against Washington until its NFL team changes its name, or some such.

Point is, if you find yourself resorting to the fluke argument too often, chances are pretty solid you’re really not talking about flukes, but something else. Fixing that something else is starting to become an issue now, and seeing as we’re going up against our Winter Classic rivals tonight, this game needs to provide clues as to what, exactly, needs fixing.

Chicago is a dominating team with a corps of dominating players, despite some of their early going this season. I’d like to say something rude about all those young punks like Toews, Kane, Van Riemsdyk (which always makes me think of hipsters with funny little beards), and even some of the elders, but I can’t. They’re just that good.

Chicago itself is another story.

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On Wednesday morning, the NHL released a two-minute long video promoting the upcoming Winter Classic in Washington DC. The gravely narrator gets us excited for the Capitals match-up with the Blackhawks on January 1.

Enjoy!

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The jersey’s got stripes! (Photo: Monumental Network)

At noon on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals will debut their new Winter Classic jerseys. All the big wigs are in attendance: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Don Fehr, and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. Also scheduled to attend are Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby, who will be modeling the new sweaters.

There will be a lot of information to cover today: plans for the game, a 24/7-like documentary series leading up to the game, the Caps new WC logo, the NHL’s logo, whatever the Hawks are doing, rink placement inside the stadium, views from the seats, and probably even more.

We’ll update this post as information comes in so keep refreshing. Have a blast in the comments. Also, we’ll have some awesome photos from Amanda Bowen, who is photographing the event for us, later.

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Beagle Rabid as Caps beat Hawks 4-0

Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

The vibe was weird in Friday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals. The Caps were playing for nothing but honor, but the Hawks were jockeying for playoff position. You couldn’t tell by the tilt of the ice. The Caps played a sloppy– but productive– game led by the team’s 1C, Jay Bodenheimer Beagle.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 51st  goal of the year on the power play from the remotest bastion of the Ovi Spot. Jay Beagle took two swipes to make it 2-0. Nick Backstrom eliminated the two-goal lead with a no-angle bank shot off Antti Raanta’s buttocks. Beagle struck again before the second period was done because nothing makes sense in an absurd universe upon which all meaning is a deliberate projection.

Nothing in the third. Sorry, Jay.

Caps beat Hawks like a million to nothing.

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Photos by Chris Gordon

Hockey, thankfully, is nonpartisan. Sports is one thing Americans can set aside politics for. Instead of hating our neighbor because he’s on the other side of the aisle, we can hate him because he’s a Flyers fan. With that in mind, please no angry political comments. We’re still a hockey blog.

Today I covered the ceremony to honor the 2013 Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks at the White House. It’s a decades-old presidential tradition to honor the champions of major American professional and college sports — even the winners of the Little League World Series. Today’s event was the 55th time a team has visited during the Barack Obama presidency. Annoyingly, it’s also the second Blackhawks trip. Normally a team visits when they’re in town to play the local DC team, though that wasn’t the case today. The Blackhawks don’t come to Verizon Center until right before the playoffs in mid-April, so the team used one of their odd days in between home games to make the trip.

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Bill Smith

Alex Ovechkin scores his first goal of the season. (Photo Bill Smith)

Finally!

141 days after they got the boot by the Rangers, the Washington Capitals are back. You no longer have to talk to your friends, go out to dinner with your significant other, return calls from your family, or bathe with any regularity. From this moment until May at the earliest, your ass belongs to us.

I might have taken that too far. I’m sorry. I’m a bit excited over the return of net-crashing and the scoaring of goals (moar edition), imminent consummate Ovi-Grabo hookups, and all that stuff. I’m somewhat less psyched over everything that is happening in the Caps’ own zone and those teenage mutant ninja Caps, but whatever. It’s very early, and this was a game against a very tough opponent– one who has a real chance to repeat championships.

Here’s how it went down.

At the end of an Eric Fehr penalty, Jack Hillen’s weak clear allowed the puck to find Chicago’s Brandon Bollig in the crease. Bollig (6’2″, 223 lbs) easily out-muscled Connor Carrick (5’11”, 180 lbs) to score. Later, Alex Ovechkin took a pass from Mikhail Grabovski below the goal line to even it up on the power play, but Patrick Kane scored seconds later– right after Jonathan Teows gave Braden Holtby a bit of grease from behind.

In the second period, Mikhail Grabovski beat Corey Crawford on a two-on-one flanked by mobile decoy Jason Chimera. Brent Seabrook then re-established the Hawks’ lead with a goal off a rebound during a Connor Carrick hooking penalty.

Power play QB Mike Green set up Mikhail Grabovski for a tip-in to make it even at the top of the third period, thanks to Ovechkin’s defense-attracting skills. Green struck again on a subsequent power play–again setting up Mikhail Grabovski for a tip-in (that makes three). Brandon Saad exploited a turnover, executing a give-and-go to knot the score with 12 minutes left. Holtby let in some soft service on a shot from Johnny Oduya that probably was going wide. The Caps were unable to convert a late-game five-on-three, and Green tripped Marian Hossa on an empty-net breakaway, resulting in an automatic goal.

Hawks beat Caps 6-4. Welcome back, everybody.

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Photo credit: Bill Smith

With the Capitals down 4-1 to the Blackhawks late in the second period, Alex Ovechkin carried the puck solo into the Blackhawks’ zone. With three defending players marking him, Ovechkin didn’t wait for his teammates; he did it Rambo-style. The Russian machine dipped his shoulder, slid the puck between his skates, and walked around one of the NHL’s best defensemen, Duncan Keith. He finished the sequence by putting the puck over Corey Crawford’s left pad to score.

Video is below the jump.

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