Dmitry Orlov goal celebration

Dima celebrates his fourth goal of the year (Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth)

Dripping with sweat after a thirty-minute session on a stationary bike, I asked Dmitry Orlov how he was feeling Saturday night after the biggest game of his professional career.

“Not good. We lost.”

Orlov, a 20-year-old offensive defenseman from Novokuznetsk, Russia, could have cared less about his first ever three-point performance, the fact that he rifled three shots on net, or that he was on the ice for three minutes of the game’s five-minute overtime– big-time minutes for a young player.

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Braden Holtby New Mask

A few weeks ago, word leaked out on Twitter that Braden Holtby was sporting a new goalie mask during practice up in Hershey. We sent photographer Kyle Mace — of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey on Earth — to the Bears’ next home game and had him capture every angle imaginable of Braden’s new roller-coaster themed mask.

Well now, David Gunnarsson — the Swedish artist who custom-painted Holtby’s new headgear — explains the backstory to the project.

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The D.J. King Era in Washington is Over

Friend of the blog Holly F. and King mug for the camera at a Movember event last year.

Vice President and General Manager George McPhee announced today that the Washington Capitals have sent forward D.J. King to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. The 6’3”, 231-pound horse-lover played in a total of 18 games in Washington over the past two seasons, watching another 85 from the press box. King collected $660,823 during those 85 games he did not play, which should totally bum you out.

Last week King was made available on waivers, signaling his desire to see actual playing time. The move to Hershey may be a continuation of that.

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Catching Up With Former Capital Andrew Gordon

Photo credit: Kyle Mace

Andrew Gordon won two Calder Cups with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears in four seasons.  He played nine games with Washington last season, scoring his first career NHL goal on future hall of famer Martin Brodeur, a feat he celebrated by kissing assister Marcus Johansson on the bench. But Andrew left the organization over the summer to hazard the free market. After a promising performance at Anaheim’s training camp, Gordon was added to the team’s roster (and then cheated on us in Finland with another blog).

I caught up with the notoriously well-spoken Andrew Gordon after the Ducks’ painful 5-4 overtime loss to the Capitals on Tuesday. We talked about California weather, competing against his former teammates, and the enduring adoration of Washington’s fans.

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Happy Halloween from RMNB and Our Readers

Sheepvechkin

Sheepvechkin! (Illustration by Rachel Cohen)

Today is Halloween, which for me means less than one month until my birthday! Yay! Oh wait — I mean, dressing up, eating candy, and looking like a tool. To celebrate the holiday right, we figured we’d do a Halloween-themed post.

I’ll be honest: when I heard Chris Gordon‘s demand to solicit Caps-themed jack-o-lanterns, I thought we’d get maybe four images and this post would be a total disaster. Three days and 50 emails later, holy lord did you guys come through in a BIG way. (I guess that’s why he contributes to the New York Times, and I don’t.)

We’ve got Caps logos, we’ve got Ovi heads, and we’ve got 10 million Weagle-carved pumpkins. Follow me past the jump to check out the gallery.

Oh yeah. Homeowners, please remember: the more Mr. Big bars you give out to the kids tonight, the more goals Ovechkin will score on Tuesday. So don’t be stingy. And kids, show no restraint in eating your candy when you get home. Sugar is good for you, no matter what your parents say. Eat it all in one night. Dive into those Kit-Kats and Milky Ways like Alex Ovechkin dives into the boards after scoaring. Type II diabetes be damned.

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All photos by Kyle Mace. Click to enlarge.

We heard from reader Matthew W. that Braden Holtby got a new mask this week. Until today, all we had were blurry, long-distance cell phone pictures, but now we’ve got pics from Kyle Mace (of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey On Earth) taken during warm-ups of the Bears/Senators game.

The front of the mask features a bear on a roller coaster (either a reference to Hersheypark or his turbulent offseason) and the Capitals Weagle logo. The back features the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta (Holtby’s home); the Japanese symbol meaning “Constant Improvement,” the words “Carpe Diem”, and the Hershey Bears logo.

Below the jump, check out Kyle’s hi-res images of Braden’s sweet new headgear. And thanks to Holtby for unknowingly being such a great model.

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Dmitry Orlov

Photo credit: Kyle M.

It was over 30 minutes past the scheduled end of his practice session, but Dmitry Orlov simply did not want to leave the ice. With almost all of his teammates from Group C already in the locker room, the 20-year-old defenseman had the secondary rink at Kettler Capitals Iceplex all to himself, effortlessly gliding around invisible opponents with the puck seemingly glued to his stick. Dima was clearly enjoying the moment.

Group C included such standout blueliners as Roman Hamrlik, an NHL veteran of almost two decades, and John Carlson, not much older than Dmitry, but already recognized as one of the top young rearguards in the league. The young Russian appeared to be unfazed by such company. Every time the players gathered around a member of the coaching staff to receive instruction, Dima took his spot, usually in the front row of the huddle, and listened and watched very intently. He no longer relies on anyone’s help in order to understand — a very timely improvement in his command of the English language — as all of his Russian-speaking teammates were assigned to Group A.

Having finally completed his puck-dangling routine, Dima finally went off into the locker room, but not before he patiently signed autographs for a small group of his fans waiting for him rink side. A few minutes later he made his way into the media area — by then completely empty, aside from a couple of reporters finishing up their stories — and spoke candidly with RMNB about his improving English, participating in shootouts, and his first and only fight.

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Mark French

Photo credit: Hershey Bears Facebook Page

In early February, when Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to reach the KHL playoffs, Dmitry Orlov worked out a deal with the team’s management. Instead of being sent down to the MHL to play for Metallurg’s affiliate during their playoff run, Orlov started his professional career in the Capitals’ organization to work towards his goal of becoming an NHL player.

He flew to America, and made his AHL debut with the Bears on February 27th. That night, Dima registered an assist, spent time on the power play, and had a first period so solid that Tim Leone called it “the best first 20 minutes from a 19-year-old D I’ve ever seen in this league.”

Orlov went on to total nine points in the remaining 19 games of the AHL regular season, and he experienced his first ever AHL playoff series, a 4-2 series loss to the Charlotte Checkers.

The six-foot Novokuznetsk native is now back in DC, participating in his first ever NHL Training Camp. I caught up with Hershey Bears Head Coach Mark French — the same man who guided the Bears to an AHL record 60 wins and the team’s eleventh Calder Cup in 2010 — and asked him about Orlov’s rookie season, what he needs to improve to make the NHL, and if Dima has the potential to be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL.

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Dmitry Orlov

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

A few weeks ago, Dmitry Orlov completed his third Capitals Development Camp, flying back to his hometown of Novokuznetsk immediately after its completion. The 20-year-old Orlov will continue to train in Russia until heading back to Washington in September for his first ever NHL training camp.

Three weeks ago, Sports.ru’s Andrey Osadchenko had a fascinating Q & A with Dima, with the Caps prospect going in-depth on his time in Hershey, who impressed him most at the AHL level, and his goals for the upcoming season. Orlov — who’s been involved in a few altercations during his time in the KHL — also revealed if anyone tried to fight him during his time with the Bears.

Below, RMNB’s Igor Kleyner translates the interview.

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Braden Holtby

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

When George McPhee swooped in and signed free agent goalie Tomas Vokoun for a couple bucks and Alex Ovechkin’s now useless stockpile of CCM sticks, there was no doubt it was a great move for the Washington Capitals. But that doesn’t mean everyone was happy with it. 21-year-old netminder Braden Holtby, who looked assured of a roster spot just a day before when the team traded away Semyon Varlamov, was once again relegated to a job with the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

We know what Michal Neuvirth, the remaining ‘keeper in the Caps’ trio, thinks about the deal and losing his starting spot. Holtby, however, has been somewhat of a mystery, with head coach Bruce Boudreau admitting during Development Camp even he hasn’t spoken to the Saskatchewan native about the move.

Unbeknownst to us (but not Hockey Ramblings), someone has been able get Holtby’s side of the story. Several weeks ago, The Pipeline Show on Team 1260 Edmonton caught up the young goalie, with Holtby spilling the beans on the crease situation, Nicklas Backstrom’s injuries, why he didn’t think the team’s defensive system was much of a change, and more.

Below, we offer a transcription.

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