Joe Beninati’s Rookie Card

Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin pose with their Rookie Cards

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Way back in the eighties when trading cards were still packaged with a stick of bubble gum, a young, bright-eyed right-wing by the name of Craig Laughlin was featured on his first ever card. O-Pee-Chee, a Canadian candy company, produced the 1983-84 season set which also featured rookie cards for Scott Stevens, Phil Housley, and Brian Bellows.

Fast forward 28 years, Laughlin can now be found in the Capitals broadcast booth alongside play-by-play man Joe Beninati. The broadcast duo has been calling Capitals games together for 17 years. While the two took completely different paths to get to their current jobs, The Panini Group has now distinguished Joe B. with the same honor Laughlin received in his playing days. Yes, Joe B. now has an official trading card too. And it comes signed!

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Video: Joe B and Locker’s Biggest Fans

As you know, we don’t think it’s cool to give female hockey fans a hard time for liking the players. But it’s okay to differ on matters of taste. Evgeni Malkin, for example, has some kind of nerve-damage thing happening on that face that only a mother could (or should) love. But we see people holding signs for the guy anyway.

During Friday’s Jets-Caps game, these two sophisticated mamas made a tandem proposition to DC’s broadcast team of Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin. Bravo, ladies. You have our complete support.

Sometime later, Laughlin, who is always a smooth character, was caught signing autographs for fans who were throwing up items to him in the booth. This town certainly loves its announcers.

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George McPhee and Mike Knuble pose with the silver stick. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

With the drop of a six-ounce disc of vulcanized rubber, 39-year-old right wing Mike Knuble became the 269th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 career games. While only a small percentage of players ever reach that milestone, an even tinier amount do it at age 39. Consider, Knuble is the second oldest player to ever reach 1,000 games, trailing only ex-Capital defenseman Grant Ledyard (who was 40).

Kanoobs, a veteran of 16 career NHL seasons, won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Detroit during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons – his first two years in the league. However, it would take him four more years to finally have a breakout year and establish himself. In 2002-03, after Sergei Samsonov suffered a wrist injury, Knuble was asked to fill the void on the first line alongside Joe Thornton and Glen Murray with Boston. The gritty, two-way forward responded by finishing the year with 30 goals and 59 points. Knuble’s never looked back since.

Entering this season, Mike has recorded eight straight 20-goal seasons. Even more remarkable: Knuble’s scored 221 of his 271 career goals after his 30th birthday. That’s more goals than Steve Yzerman and Wayne Gretzky racketed up during the same playing age. This stat speaks volumes about Knuble’s relentless work-ethic, high hockey IQ, and professionalism. “You spend the first four or five years of your career trying to lock up a spot in the league and try to prove to everybody that you can play,” Knuble explained after Capitals practice Monday. “That’s enough of a battle. Once you get over that hump and you’ve proved you can play, then it’s a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy.”

Naturally, the Capitals organization went all out to celebrate the assistant captain’s achievement tonight.

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William Make-A-Wish (33 of 34)

Alexander Semin picks up William after giving him his game jersey. (Photo credit: Shannon family)

Editor’s Note: By now, you’ve probably heard of William Shannon. He is five years old, has acute lymphoblastic leukemia and is everyone’s favorite little Capital. Thanks to the make a Wish-A-Wish foundation and the Caps, William had his dream realized and took the ice with Mike Green, Jason Chimera, D.J. King and Semyon Varlamov on Friday.

“This weekend was an incredible event!,” William’s father Devin Shannon said in an email. “William’s wish was to practice with the Capitals and he did! I can’t tell you how much everyone has done for us and what this weekend has meant for us.”

After practicing with the Caps, William’s journey continued on Saturday when he and his family took in Washington’s matchup with the Buffalo Sabres before riding the on the Zamboni and receiving the jersey off the back of Alexander Semin after the game. I’ll let Devin take it from here:

Day two was just as amazing as day one! Allyson Butler from Make-A-Wish met us in the hotel lobby and took us out to wait for our “ride” to the game! Within minutes a very long black stretch limo appeared before us! Bill, our driver, was very nice. William and Emily quickly climbed in and all we heard for a few minutes was: “Cool!” “This is so sweet!” Then we had chatty little ones for the short ride over to the Verizon Center! It is amazing how just the little things make such a huge impression! How neat it was for the kids to get out of the limo right in front of the Verizon Center with so many fans around wondering who the V.I.P. was!

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Hendricks’ Hustle Pushes Caps Past Canes, 2-1

Alex Ovechkin celebrates after scoring the GTG, wristing home his 28th goal of the year past Cam Ward

SCOAR! (Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin)

After extending their season-high winning streak to six games with Wednesday’s 5-0 blowout win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Capitals tried to keep things in perspective. Following this morning’s pre-game skate, Mike Knuble told the Washington Post’s Katie Carrera that, “I don’t know if we’re hot-hot, but we’re playing better.” Bruce Boudreau even admitted that tonight’s game against the always hard-working Carolina Hurricanes would be “a great test.”

Indeed it would be. Despite chucking 19 shots at Cam Ward through two periods, the Capitals went into the lockerroom facing a 1-0 deficit. Why? Because everyone’s favorite Ruutu brother, Tuomo, converted on a three-on-two odd man break, blasting a slap shot past a screened/interfered-with (you choose) Braden Holtby. The goal, scored with only 36 seconds left in the period, forced the normally chipper Craig Laughlin to lament “goals at the beginning and end of periods are always back-breaking.” Joe Beninati then let us know that the Hurricanes were 21-0-0 when leading after two. Wuh oh.

But then God’s gift to hockey, Alex Ovechkin, decided to do his thing. 47 seconds into the third period, Ovi rifled a twisted wrister past a baffled Ward. Tie game. Then six and a half minutes later, Matt Hendricks showed us again why he was the most valuable player the Capitals picked up over the summer. Jason Arnott, who was sprung on a breakaway after serving a two minute minor for hooking, was initially denied by Ward’s glove. However, a rebound was left in the crease, and Hendricks, who had just killed off Arnott’s hooking penalty, hustled all the way down the ice and chipped home the rebound.

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Caps Rally In Uniondale, Beat Islanders, 3-2

Alex Semin scores the Game Winning Goal against the Islanders and celebrates with Backstrom and Ovechkin

Photo credit: Mike Stobe

Matt Hendricks proves once again why DJ King's unneeded on this team. (Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek)

Hendy tried to spark the team, but instead he got his face Kanopka'd. (Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek)

With the Washington Capitals in danger of losing a second game in two nights, their flabbergasted head coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout and made some adjustments.

He scrapped his floundering top line and put together his dream team trio in a desperation last resort to try and spark a squad that inexplicably could not create scoring chances.

It worked.

With Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin playing together, the Capitals rallied from two goals down to beat the rapidly improving New York Islanders, 3-2, Saturday night for a pivotal road win just two days before the trade deadline.

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Feed The Machine

Last week we opened up our lines for reader questions. To be totally frank, they’ve been way beyond our expectations. Didn’t know you had it in you; keep ‘em coming!

Now pipe down and pay attention, cause Neil’s about to drop some science on you fools.

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Above, are highlights from the Caps Pens Alumni Game where the two-period exhibition ended in a 5-5 tie. One of my favorite All-Time Capitals, Peter Bondra, tied the game in the final few minutes with a wicked slap shot from the middle of the circles. In Bonzai’s post-game scrum with the media, he revealed that the scrimmage actually got quite intense.

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Caps Skate with Fans at DC Sculpture Garden

John Carlson holds what appears to be a really happy baby

Prepare to have your heart-strings tugged at. The Washington Capitals participated in a public skate at the D.C. Sculpture Garden this morning. Our hero Suzanne K. was on the scene and snapped some superb pictures. If you’ve been waiting for photos of Nicky Backstrom skating hand-in-hand with adorable little girls, your wait is now over.

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Ill Omens as Thrashers beat Caps 4-2 in Season Opener

Ondrej-Pavelec-Collapses

Just one of those nights. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Just one of those nights. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Important stuff first: Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec collapsed during a stoppage of play early in the first period. Medical staff rushed to the ice, as Pavelec remained motionless for ten minutes.  He was then taken to the hospital where he later regained consciousness. Panic, dread, and confusion filled Phillips Arena during the extended delay, but the stalwart audio crew in Atlanta made sure to drown it out with crass jock rock in the interim. We wish all the best to Pavelec.

The Caps opened this season much like they closed the last one: messily.  Through sixty minutes of scrambling, bad turnovers, and awkward attacks, the Capitals stumbled through tonight’s game with the Thrashers like a baby elephant learning to walk.  The Caps put 31 shots against Chris Mason and another 28 into various Thrasher players willing to block them.  While only Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble were each able to defeat the Atlanta defense once, the opponents found ways to score at every turn. Thanks to a penalty-shot goal from Johnny Oduya, a laser from Andrew Ladd, and a twofer from Evander Kane, the Atlanta Thrashers felled the Caps in the opening bout. Thrashers beat Caps 4-2.

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