Not the face! (Photo credit: Drew Angerer)

Much has been written about the Caps’ new commitment to shot blocking. Simply put: they’re blocking more shots than the Rangers, a team who talks about shots more than the cast of “Jersey Shore”. Through two games, the Caps have blocked 39 shots to the Rangers’ 30, and some of those those blocks have saved goals– or even games.

When you’re not wearing goalie pads, blocking shots takes some nerve. Ever wonder what it looks like afterward?

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Second-Line Centers And Unicorns

Marty Reasoner

Photo credit: Christopher Pasatieri

There is more than one team that needs a second-line center at the deadline. With a thin pool to draw from it may be easier for the Capitals to secure the services of a unicorn than a pivot to provide auxiliary scoring. With $7,357,085 in cap space available for Washington, RMNB takes a look at who may be attractive candidates.

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More Bang, Less Buck, No Criticism

John Madden holding the Stanely Cup (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Now that I have gotten my feelings on free agency out of my system, I’m ready to take a look at some of the bargain UFAs that may still be available. I mean, does it matter if I think Matthew Lombardi was a decent contract and second line center option while you say The Little Viking, Matty P. and/or Flash can handle the load, since we’ll both be cheering the Caps to a Cup anyway? Together. Like BFFs?

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Why It’s Lombardi Or Bust

matthew-lombardi

Sure, maybe it was stating the obvious when we said the second-line center the Caps should target is Matthew Lombardi, but it’s more than that. If we look at the numbers, I think he is the ONLY viable option in free agency.

Luckily our first line center is set in stone for the next decade. You may have heard of him; he’s kind of a big deal. But then there is quite a drop off:

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Eric Belanger Is Chuck Norris Tough

eric-belanger-has-tooth-removed

How tough are hockey players? After taking a stick to the mush in the first period, Eric Belanger ripped his own tooth out on the bench and then proceeded to take the next face-off. That’s insane. The AP furthers the legend:

Belanger says Saturday he “felt my teeth shatter, right away,” when Canadiens defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron’s stick hit him in the mouth in the first period of Montreal’s 2-1 victory at Washington in Game 5 of their playoff series Friday night.

Belanger needed some serious dental work at the arena, getting exposed tooth roots trimmed — then returned to the ice midway through the third period.

Explains Belanger: “I knew I was in trouble, but what are you going to do? It’s the playoffs.”

He expects to play in Game 6 at Montreal on Monday.

In summary, Belanger lost 7 or 8 teeth, including the one he ripped out himself.

Here’s the video:

Caps Beat Thrashers 5-2! Everyone Gets Laid!

alex-ovechkin-poses-with-presidents-trophy

Where's the saw? Ovechkin nets his 50th, Backstrom gets his 100th point on same goal. (Photo Nate Ewell, Above: Mitchell Layton)

Where's the saw? Ovechkin nets his 50th, Backstrom gets his 100th point on same goal. (Photo Nate Ewell, Top: Mitchell Layton)

It felt like a special night. The Caps’ final match with the Atlanta Thrashers had special gravity: Alex Ovechkin trailed Sidney Crosby in goals scored and Henrik Sedin in total points, Nick Backstrom was hovering right under the 100-point line, and 18,772 Capitals fans were hungry for wings.

Everyone got what they wanted from tonight’s 5-2 walloping. Alex Ovechkin’s and Nick Backstrom’s individual achievements delivered a definitive win for the whole team. With the playoffs imminent, isn’t this exactly what we want to see from our team?

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Caps Beat Canes 4-3 (OT)! Two for Mike Green!

He didn't score, but he always makes for a good photo! (Greg Fiume/NHLI via Getty Images)

He didn't score, but he always makes for a good photo! (Greg Fiume/NHLI via Getty Images)

For the second time in consecutive nights, the Caps allowed a 2-0 game go to overtime. Tonight’s battle with the Hurricanes found the Caps continuing to struggle with the penalty kill, but a superlative effort from Mike Green and an overtime goal from Tomas Fleischmann earned the red team the win.

The Caps clearly have not yet returned to their pre-Olympic break heights. The top line is whiffing on the crease-cluttered opportunities they used to exploit. The penalty kill unit gave up only one goal on four chances tonight, but they’re still not operating at full capacity. The usual suspects (*Cough*Semin*Cough*) are still committing penalties and surrendering pucks with alarming frequency. Fixing these problems will be crucial not only in the post-season, but in the next few weeks to secure the President’s Trophy.

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Caps Shut Out Rangers 2-0! But Where’s Ovie?

(Awesome) Photo credit: Heather Mabb

Uh, right here? Photo credit: Heather Mabb

Sorry for the delays, everyone. Busy night.

The Capitals are now 40% through their longest home stint of the season, and it’s not gone too bad so far. In tonight’s game with the New York Rangers, Washington showed defensive rigor that’s been missing all year, but something was missing. Even though Eric Fehr and Eric Belanger’s goals lifted the Caps over the Rags, the “Is Party Now!” dynamics of Washington’s offense simply did not show up. At least Jose Theodore was perfect.

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Do The Caps Have The Goaltending To Win The Cup?

Is Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov enough to win a cup?

The Washington Capitals added depth on NHL Deadline Day, acquiring forwards Scott Walker and Eric Belanger, and blueliners Joe Corvo and Milan Jurcina, who returns to Washington after being traded, along with then team captain Chris Clark, to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Despite these moves paying off immediate dividends, questions remain about the Caps goaltending: specifically, is it enough to keep pucks out of the net in the playoffs?

“No matter how fearsome their attack, they’re just OK at keeping pucks out of their net. They’ll enter the playoffs, likely as the top seed in the East, entrusting the most critical position on the ice to the likes of Jose Theodore, Semyon Varlamov and/or Michal Neuvirth.” – NBCSports.com

So what type of goaltending does it take to win the Cup, and do the Caps have it?

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[Editor’s note:  Russian Machine Never Breaks is proud to announce the addition of Neil Greenberg to the fold.  You might remember Neil from his excellent statistical analysis over at 5ive Hole, which he will continue to maintain.  Please join us in welcoming Neil.  Play nice.]

The trade deadline came and went, and while the Caps made some changes, a lot stayed the same. Most importantly: Hershey was virtually untouched. And it is probably because of this that the Caps didn’t make the “big move” most of the fans thought they would.

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