This makes an excellent creepy wallpaper. Click to enlarge. (Photos by Patrick McDermott)

In 2008, the Washington Capitals launched Courage Caps, a program to benefit military charities through the sale of team-branded hats and shirts. This year the program will fund TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which provides support for families of killed American solders.

This year’s Courage Caps promotion will formally launch on February 4, when the team will put the merchandise on sale online as well at Verizon Center and Kettler. The day before, Jack Hillen will skate with some families the program has helped.

On Wednesday, the Caps sent us some photos of the new gear. Now in its seventh year, Courage Caps is starting to run out of military themes, but I think winter digi-camo look is a good one.

The chosen models, however, is where we’ll have our fun. Everything starts off well with John Carlson, the team’s resident US Olympian. Next in the gallery are Karl Alzner and Nicklas Backstrom, two of Washington’s most docile heartthrobs and noted not-Americans. I would gone with maybe an angry Casey Wellman, a Californian, draped only in an American flag. Or maybe Connor Carrick, feeding a Nathan’s hot dog to a bald eagle. Either way, it’s all for a good cause.

Here are the images of this year’s edition:

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Skinned: Canes Thump Caps 4-1


Photo credit: Rob Carr

The Capitals’ power play, the main factor behind Washington’s early wins, has dropped off. So, too, has their penalty kill. Still, the team is finding ways to win — barely. Though they got four points over the weekend, both games took extra time. Nevertheless, the team’s five-on-five play has been improving. Would it be enough to defeat the new old division rival Canes?

The Caps played well in the first, with Jason Chimera nearly converting early on a scrum in front to give Washington the lead. Carolina, though, struck first. After Eric Staal fed him the puck from behind the net, Hockey Bieber — that would be Jeff Skinner — took a shot from the goal line. Braden Holtby couldn’t make to the near post in time as the puck deflected in off his nether regions.

In the second, things got out of hand. Midway through the frame, lil’ Skinner was at it again with fly ball from the near circle. Less than three minutes later, the Hurricanes pushed the lead to three as Andre Sekera unleashed a blast from the point on the power play that Holtby never saw. Point number three for Skinner. Fifty-three seconds later, it got even uglier when Jiri Tlusty put a nasty backhand top shelf. Ugh.

For the final frame, enter Philip Grubauer. The Caps didn’t show much life in the third, but at least Mike Green got on board for the first time since the Obama administration with a power play marker. Nothing more. Canes thump Caps, 4-1.

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Moar Caps Dog Calendar Photos


The Washington Capitals released a behind-the-scenes video on Tuesday that gives us a peak behind the curtain of the upcoming Caps Dog calendar, which benefits the Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. Every dollar from the sale of these keepsakes will go to making a pet’s life better, which is why on December 3rd, you will buy one when they go on sale. They’ve be available through the Capitals’ team stores at Verizon Center and Kettler, as well as online.

Because I love you guys, I have collected some of my favorite stills from the new video. If you ask me, the best pic is the one where Grabovski stares deep into that dog’s soul. Or Hula Holtby.

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Alex Brandon

Photo: Alex Brandon

Still kicking off what everyone expects to be a big season, the Washington Capitals haven’t worked out the kinks yet. At Thursday’s home opener against the Calgary Flames, the Caps defense seemed to have difficulty playing defense or perhaps grasping even the abstract concept of defense.

David Jones roofed it to Braden Holtby’s near side to open up scoring early in the first. Following a momentum-nothinging fight by Tom Wilson, Lee Stempniak made it 2-0. Not longer after that came a power play tally by Jiri Hudler, who had loads of free ice as Jason Chimera went a-rambling on the penalty-kill prairie.

The Caps regained life in the second period as Connor Carrick scored his first NHL goal (at the ripe age of 19), a snazzy slow-mo breakaway upon exiting the penalty box. Spirits were leavened momentarily, but Lance Bouma converted when Michal Neuvirth abdicated the net to make it 4-1 near the halfway mark. The Capitals converted a second-period high-sticking call as — wait for it– Alex Ovechkin scored from his favorite spot. That’s Ovi for ya. Unhappy with just one, Ovechkin took a puck off the faceoff to the top shelf to get the Capitals within one after two periods.

A penalty-filled third period yielded nothing until Nick Backstrom, the silent suede Swede, tied the game with a scrambly power-play goal. Into overtime we went and beyond.

Shootout summary!

  • Grabo scored on a backhand rooftop.
  • Sven Baertschi denied on a five-hole attempt by Neuvy.
  • Alex Ovechkin got the DC Hat Trick!
  • Neuvy stopped someone not sure who who cares

Caps beat Flames 5-4 (shootout)!

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Jack Hillen‘s knee was pinned between the boards and Calgary’s Lance Bouma as Bouma out all his weight into the hit. Just eight minutes into Thursday’s home opener, Hillen was hurt and needed assistance to leave the ice, unable to put any weight on his leg.

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Who Will Be the Odd Man Out In the Caps Blueline Logjam?

Jack Hillen and Steve Oleksy are frontrunners for defensive spots on the Caps opening night roster. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

With days to go before the start of the regular season, a few questions regarding the Washington Capitals’ opening day roster remain unanswered. First among them is this: who will be the Caps bottom-pairing D-men?

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Sorry Penguin. (Photo credit: @ZackkShapp)

[Editor’s Note: Two years ago, we debuted a t-shirt parodying the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rachel Cohen did the illustration and Ian Oland turned it into a shirt. It has become one of our top sellers and even appeared on an episode of CRL. At the Caps Convention on Saturday, reader Zack S. endeavored to get his shirt signed by the entire Washington Capitals team. Zack was kind enough to summarize the players’ reactions for us. If you want your own shirt, you can buy it here in our t-shirt store.]

My dad and I were given VIP tickets the night before the convention by a friend who worked for Verizon. I was running around trying to find something to have the players sign and I thought how funny it would be if we got the players to sign a Deadguins shirt.

If you have never seen the VIP room at Caps Convention, it’s just a bunch of tables with some sandwiches and drinks put out, and most of the players come by to eat lunch or just hang out there between appearances downstairs. It’s a really cool setup because some of the guys will actually sit down and talk to you.

Most of the players were confused at first when I asked them to sign the shirt, thinking that I was asking them to sign actual Pittsburgh Penguins regalia, but most of them laughed once I told them what it was.

Reactions ranged from, “HELL YES!” by Jason Chimera to Peter Bondra shaking his head and saying, “Aw, come on.”

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Aussie Nathan Walker Scores First NHL Goal, Kinda

Credit: Washington Capitals

Jack Hillen scored the Capitals’ first goal of the preseason during the Kraft Hockeyville game in Belleville, Ontario on Saturday night. Or so we thought. Per Mike Vogel, Australian Nathan Walker has been changed to the official goal scorer. Or at least he should’ve been.

“I think it did,” Walker’s linemate Troy Brouwer told Vogel when asked if he thinks Walker deflected Hillen’s shot. “I went over and told the ref. I know there aren’t a whole lot of cameras in that little rink to straighten it out. They said they changed it, but they didn’t announce it. Those things are very important in preseason. In the regular season guys don’t care as much. But in the preseason, it could be the difference between making the team and not making the team. Hopefully he got credit, or hopefully who needs to know knows that he got a touch on it.”

Nice to Brouwer to speak up for a younger guy like that.

A good impression in the preseason is crucial to Walker’s chances of getting a contract. As the only player in camp not affiliated with the Caps or Bears, Walker has to distinguish himself and find his place in the organization soon. And since scoring goals is a still a going concern in hockey, there’s no better way to build a resume than putting the puck in the net. Walker did exactly that.

GIF and video of the play are below.

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19 Days Out: Steve Oleksy vs Jack Hillen in a 4D Battle


Photo: The great Clydeorama

The Capitals are stocked with three excellent defenders in John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Mike Green. Each brings something to the veritable table: Carlson has an offensive upside, Mike Green is a power play maestro, and the stay-at-home Karl Alzner is threatening to crack a 2.5% shooting percentage any day now.

You can pair those three any way you want, but it is still unclear who else among the other Caps D-men is up to the job of playing in the top four. Here’s a lovely chart  from Greg Sinclair that illustrate’s how Caps D were used and how they performed last season:

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Bad Ice and Bad News: Rangers beat Caps 4-3

Bruce Bennett

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Game three of the quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was an opportunity for a statement. The Capitals could have played just as they had last week and put NYR in a headlock. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Capitals got drawn into a quagmire on rocky ice– a penalty-punctuated, back-and-forth battle that they could not win despite dominating the even-strength game.

Rangers beat Capitals 4-3. Capitals still lead the series 2-1.

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