There used to be a guy behind the Caps bench who looked like Ray Liotta. He made wacky decisions that harmed the team, like forcing Braden Holtby to play deep in the net, altering everyone’s sticks, and sometimes being too honest during press conferences.
But if there was one decision that was more bizarre than the rest: pairing Alex Ovechkin— this generation’s greatest goal scorer– with Jay Beagle and AHL journeyman Joey Crabb on the first line.
For more evidence of why it was such an awful decision, I direct you to an Instagram video from Paul Bissonnette.
Back in early July, Washington Capitals first round pick Jakub Vrana displayed his sick hands during Development Camp. The 18-year-old Czech had the most talked about play of the week, scoring during a scrimmage with a wild shootout move. In an interview with RMNB after camp concluded, Vrana said that the move was spur of the moment, something he thought of as he skated in towards the goalie.
On Thursday, Vrana, playing with the Czech Republic as part of the National Junior Team Summer Development Camp, tried again to get super creative against Canada. After taking a pass behind the net, Vrana attempted to scoop the puck up with his stick blade and score like a lacrosse player.
As evidenced by some Instagram photos last weekend, former Washington Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov is back in the states to start training for next season– just like his Russian compatriots Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.
Varly, who finished second in voting for last year’s Vezina Trophy, is working out with expert trainer Steve Saunders for the third straight offseason.
Last week, to improve his explosive strength, Varly attached himself to a bungee cord and did some power jumps away from the wall. It did not go well.
Photo: Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images
Team Switzerland had a porous performance at the World Championship. Led by Roman Josi and Damien Brunner, the Swiss failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing fifth in Group B due to Mikhail Grabovski’s game-winner for Belarus. Eliminated before the end of the preliminary round, the Swiss played spoiler for Latvia, who needed a win to make the quarterfinals.
Late in the third period, Latvia trailed 3-1. After pulling goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, the Latvians got a goal back from Zemgus Girgensons on a deflection. Soon after, Kaspars Daugavins turned the puck over, giving the Swiss a chance to seal the deal. Reto Suri and Thomas Rufenacht went two-on-none towards an empty net.
And then they blew it.
Photo: Ron Chenoy
Former Capital Semyon Varlamov had an incredible year for the Colorado Avalanche, taking the Avs from last to first in the standings. He is likely to win the Vezina Trophy in June as the league’s best goaltender.
Unfortunately for Varly, this season — like many in the past — ends with a bitter taste in his mouth. Semyon Varlamov played in another game seven, and Semyon Varlamov in game sevens is not very good.
Against the Wild on Wednesday, Varly played his first game seven in four years — since he put up an .875 save percentage against the Montreal Canadiens. Varly was shaky again against Minnesota, making 30 saves on 35 shots for a .857 save percentage. He gave up the series-winning goal to Nino Niederreiter five minutes into overtime.
Varlamov is 1-for-4 in game sevens in his career with a lifetime .857 save percentage.
There’s only one thing left to do.
Coming into Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, the Washington Capitals had lost seven straight games. Thankfully, the Habs made the Caps look like the hockey Harlem Globetrotters. The Canadiens allowed Washington to score four goals in the second period. After that fourth goal, the Caps had more tallies than the Habs had shots on net.
Understandbly frustrated, the Candiens’ Brendan Gallagher tried to break his stick at the end of the second stanza. He failed at that too.
The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the 2013 playoffs as the best team in the East. Hands down. They led the league in goals despite losing ever-vainglorious Sidney Crosby to plastic surgery mid-season. It seemed like a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals would be a cakewalk, even moreso once The Kid returned.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s first round cognitive flatulence from last year made an (un?)expected return. He was benched after four fecal games against the Islanders. Opting instead for Tomas “I have a really surprising amount of tattoos” Vokoun, the Pens’ rickety ship got rightened long enough to beat the Islanders and the Senators.
But now, against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals, hockey’s golden goose Sidney Crosby has been diagnosed with a virulent case of the Fleuries. Crosby had a bevy of boondoggles in game one, which I’ll document below, including a Sean Avery-esque shove of Tuukka Rask at the end of the second period that in a just world would have resulted in a They Live-style brawl. Then, in game two, on his first shift, Crosby served up a tasty turnover that led to Boston’s first goal. That set the tone for the game, which was the most deliciously pathetic thing we’ve had the privilege to watch in a long time. The Bruins lead the series 2-0, and the Pens — well, they’re in trouble, dude.
Listen. I’ve been taunted by Penguins fans all my life. This is overdue.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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