Sidney Crosby Welcomes Connor Carrick to the NHL (GIF)

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Check out Carrick’s grimace.

When I get frustrated, I try to leave the situation before I do something stupid. I go outside, I gather my thoughts, I try to compose myself.

World-class hockey player Sidney Crosby doesn’t have that luxury. He’s trapped in a 200′ x 85′ plexiglass case of emotion. Or maybe he really is an enabled and entitled goon who enjoys temper tantrums, complaining, and cheap shots. Whatever it is, Crosby lashed out again on Wednesday night. This time he took his aggression out on poor li’l Connor Carrick.

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Johansson (red) laughs during the preseason Capitals Alumni Game. (Photo: Chris Gordon)

The Washington Capitals’ defense allows the second most shots per game in the NHL. They’ve put perhaps their best defensive prospect, Dmitry Orlov, through recall-scratch-repeat hell. Now that Orlov is finally playing, he’s paired with a guy who has a similar skill set, Mike Green.

Then there’s the frequent shuffling of the Caps blue line deck. Due to injuries, on-ice struggles, waiver pickups, and call-ups from the minors, Washington has used twelve different defenseman this season. Just about every blue liner in the organization has gotten a shot as part of the 2013-14 Caps D corps.

As we head towards the stretch run, the Caps seemed to have settled on a lineup for now: John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Mike Green, Dmitry OrlovJohn Erskine, and Connor Carrick. Though Washington’s defense has been its biggest flaw, its recent improvement may also their best chance at making — and succeeding — in the playoffs.

A few weeks ago, I spoke with assistant coach Calle Johansson, the man who runs the Caps’ blue line, and asked him about some of his decisions, including some of the positives from this season.

The full transcript is below.

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Connor Carrick rushes the puck up ice (Photo credit: Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)

World Juniors semifinalists were determined on Thursday. Washington Capitals prospects combined for three points. Riley Barber had one assist to his name, while Andre Burakovsky recorded a pair of helpers.

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Photo credit: Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images

Washington Capitals prospects Riley Barber, Connor Carrick, and Thomas DiPauli all contributed to the scoreboard in USA’s convincing victory over the Czech Republic, 5-1.

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Riley Barber Named Team USA Captain For World Juniors

Photo credit: USA Hockey

Washington Capitals prospect Riley Barber has been named captain of Team USA for the upcoming World Junior Championships, per USA Hockey.

Barber, who is set to play on the first line with Danny O’Reagan and Nicolas Kerdiles, is one of just three returnees from last years’ gold medal-winning squad.

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One of three returning players for the US, Riley Barber will be relied upon leadership and scoring (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Three Washington Capitals draft picks have been selected to participate in USA Hockey’s World Juniors training camp, which will be held in Minneapolis this month. It will determine who will represent the country in Malmo, Sweden this winter.

Forwards Thomas DiPauli and Riley Barber, as well as defenseman Connor Carrick (all drafted by the Caps in 2012) are up for roster spots.

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Caps Players Signed One of Those Awful Toasters

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Photo credit: Amanda H.

[Editor's note: When Washington Capitals fan Amanda H. went to the Caps Season Ticket Holder party at Six Flags last year, she had Martin Erat sign a photo of Filip Forsberg. This year, she one-upped herself. We'll let her explain.]

Martin Erat signs the toaster (Photo credit: Amanda H.)

Martin Erat signs the toaster (Photo credit: @Komissarov95)

I had debated for a few days what I should get signed at the season ticket holder party. I have a ton of Caps stuff, but nothing really stood out to me, until about twenty minutes before I had to leave. Long forgotten due to the poor toast it makes (No, seriously it’s very bad toast, I have yet to find a setting that toasts most of the bread without burning the other half), my Capitals toaster sat on a shelf, not having been used in months.

Images of walking around an amusement park carrying a toaster danced in my head. It was too amusing to turn down. I have a suspicion those events might be slightly tedious so I felt like this might spice things up. At the very least it’d give me something to say to the players instead of just awkwardly standing in silence. I cleaned it up a little and tested to make sure the sharpie would actually stick. It did!

When my friend Alyssa and I arrived in the parking lot, I had a moment of doubt. Am I really going to go get a toaster signed? Why didn’t I clean it thoroughly beforehand? I figured that either way, this would be a great story and probably worth the effort. I went through security and the bag check. The guy checking my bag thought my toaster was pretty cool.

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The Best Caps-Themed Selfie Ever Taken

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Washington Capitals fan/RMNB reader Sami took the photo of the night at Tuesday’s annual Caps’ season-ticket holder party at Six Flags America. You probably have already seen it. Eric Fehr tweeted it out, and both Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick retweeted it.

Sami, holding up her iPhone 4, took a front-facing photo of her three friends: Brenna (front row to the left), Zoe (second row to the left), and Danielle (second row to the right) as they rode the Superman rollercoaster. In the background, Caps players make silly faces. Braden Holtby looks apprehensive, Eric Fehr shows off his pearly whites, Tom Wilson gives an enthusiastic thumbs up, and little old Connor Carrick (who I trust was tall enough to ride this ride) manages to lean his head just above Fehr’s.

Study this photo. Look at it carefully. It has more layers than one of my website comp PSD’s (and no, I didn’t name the layers).

Danielle, who emailed us the group’s photos and kindly gave us permission to publish, was really excited. “It was really cool to see what happened to Sami’s photo,” Danielle wrote. “Because later on when we were visiting the players autograph tables, they knew exactly who we were from the roller coaster and mentioned that they saw the picture on Twitter.”

Tuesday was Zoe’s birthday. (Happy belated birthday, Zoe!) Danielle tells us that many players made a big deal about it.

The girls got autographs from Mike Green, Aaron Volpatti, Connor Carrick, John Carlson, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, Marcus Johansson, and hahaha best Ovechkin.

Below are the rest of their photos from the night. Looks like a great time.

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The Washington Capitals had two selections in the first round of the 2012 draft. They had the 11th pick, received from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the Semyon Varlamov deal, and the 16th pick. Entering that weekend, many general managers talked about how top-heavy the draft was with talented defensemen. In fact, eight of the top ten picks were rearguards, which allowed the Capitals to draft the best European skater in the draft, Filip Forsberg at number eleven. Five picks later, they also selected Tom Wilson, who made the team out of training camp this season.

In the fifth round, the Capitals selected their first defenseman of the day (and one of three overall), the 5’11” Connor Carrick, out of the United States National Team Development Program. 46 defensemen were selected before Carrick was snatched up at pick 137. A lot of people had never heard of him at that point.

Funny. A full year later, Carrick is a household name among Caps fans and was the first defenseman out of the 2012 draft to play in the NHL — by about 40 minutes.

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Adorbs. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

The first four periods of Connor Carrick’s NHL career went badly. In just 80 minutes of play, 19-year-old was on the ice for four goals against and also took a penalty that led to a goal. Nevertheless, Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates insisted that he was not on a short leash. In his fifth frame of big-league ice time, Carrick was redeemed.

After being called for a phantom hooking penalty midway through Washington’s home opener Thursday, Marcus Johansson sprung Carrick with a beautiful breakout pass as the young defensemen exited the box. After a nice move on Calgary Flames goalie Karri Ramo, Carrick’s first NHL goal was in the back of the net.

“I was going through scenarios in my head in the box: one, go back and play defense; two, change; three, it lands on my tape and I was thinking what would I do,” he told reporters after the game. “It worked out for me.”

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