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Photo: Chris Gordon

On Monday, the Washington Capitals held Breakdown Day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. For two hours, Caps players filed out of the locker room and conducted exit interviews with the media. Because of the whole no playoffs thing, there were a lot of long faces.

There’s about three hours of interview video to surf though on Monumental Network. Because I hate myself and care only about you, dear reader, I’ve transcribed all the key quotes. And because this is RMNB, I also pointed out the fashion choices. Sadly, there was no crazy hair this year.

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Jaroslav Halak’s Agent Has Beef With Adam Oates

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

In a season that has been inordinately long and drama-filled, here comes MOAR drama! On Tuesday, Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates announced that Jaroslav Halak would not start against his old team because Halak reportedly said he didn’t feel “100% comfortable” playing. Halak then spent most of the afternoon getting criticized by local and national media for a lack of desire and toughness. We thought this conversation should have stayed private.

Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, has issued a statement and apparently he agrees with us. I hope you’re ready for some venom, Oatesy.

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halak-not-playing

Photo: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have less than a 5% chance of making the playoffs. Tonight, they take on the best team in the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues, in what is practically an elimination game. They need everyone on board. Unfortunately, not everyone is on board.

Speaking with the press today in St. Louis, Adam Oates revealed Braden Holtby will be starting tonight. That wasn’t too surprising until Oates explained the reasoning behind the move. Jaroslav Halak had told the coaching staff he was uncomfortable playing against his former team.

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The Nail: Devils Beat Caps 2-1

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.

With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.

The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.

During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.

The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.

Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.

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On a day when Ryan Miller dumped his white mask in favor of a beautifully painted music inspired mask, Washington Capitals goaltender Jaroslav Halak has done the same.

Last week, you’ll remember, we asked Halak if he was getting his bucket painted.

“I’m getting my mask soon,” Halak said to me, too embarrassed to hold up his vanilla bucket. “It’s by a painter [from] Montreal.”

Well today, Diel Airbrush released photos of Halak’s new mask and it’s majestic.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Hand Video Bombs RMNB Interview

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With each game he plays, Evgeny Kuznetsov grows more comfortable on the ice. On Saturday morning, twelve hours after recording his first NHL point and first multi-point game with the Washington Capitals, Kuznetsov showed that he’s also growing more comfortable in the role of locker room prankster.

Here’s the story. As I filmed Ian’s interview with Jaroslav Halak, a figure walked towards the stall just to my right. He said “hello” in a Russian accent, came up behind me, and then put his hand in front of my camera for a few seconds. He totally ruined my shot.

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Photo: Rob Carr

It’s been just over a week since the Washington Capitals traded Michal Neuvirth to Buffalo for Jaroslav Halak. Halak, a veteran of eight NHL seasons, is already the Caps de facto starter, sporting an above average .924 save percentage and leading the Caps to three wins in five starts.

While Halak’s play has been calming on the ice, the gear he’s been wearing has been anything but. He looks like a man without a country. Unlike Neuvirth, who has been wearing his Caps-colored mask with Buffalo, Halak has opted to wear one plainest goalie masks ever seen in the NHL. His bucket, painted a bright pearly white, has only one design feature: red painted bars covering his face.

On Saturday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, I spoke with the Slovakian netminder about his unusual gear and if or when we’ll ever see him with a Caps mask.

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gmgm

Photo: Mark Buckner

(Photo: Mark Buckner)

Coming into the 2014 NHL trade deadline, some fans feared Caps general manager George McPhee would make a drastic move in the hopes of securing a playoff spot. Instead, he made three reasonable ones. The Caps got better this year without harming themselves in the future.

The biggest deal was the final one, with the Caps sending Michal Neuvirth and the newly acquired Rostislav Klesla to the Buffalo Sabres for Caps killer Jaroslav Halak and a third-round pick.

“I think we start with Neuvirth, and he wasn’t happy being a number two,” McPhee told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “We tried to accommodate him. We brought in an experienced guy. I think it’s an upgrade on the tandem which is what we wanted to accomplish.”

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

In late-breaking blockbuster, the Capitals have acquired notorious Caps-killing goaltender Jaroslav Halak for Michal Neuvirth.

Halak earns $3.75M as a UFA until the end of the season. He was acquired by Buffalo for Ryan Miller last week. Halak’s lifetime save percentage is .917. His playoff save percentage against Alex Semin is 1.00.

Neuvirth began his pro career with the Caps organization. He sports a .910 career save percentage and earns $2.5M per season through 2015, when he’ll be a UFA.

The Capitals have also given a 6th round magic bean to Buffalo. Actually, the Caps have been given a third round pick. Even better.

UPDATE: R. Klesla is now a Buffalo Sabre too. Even more of a salary dump!

This is big. Goodbye, Neuvy.

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Blues beat Caps 2-1, Dale Hunter’s Debut as Coach

 Photo credit: Nick Wass

Photo credit: Nick Wass

Dale Hunter hoped to lead the Washington Capitals to victory in his first game as head coach. He’d have to go through Jaroslav Halak to get there, but more importantly he’d have to get a flagging Capitals offense moving.

Alex Ovechkin threaded the needle, setting up Nick Backstrom to record the first goal of the game. T.J. Oshie cleaned up a Alex Steen’s slapshot to tie the score at 1-1. Matt D’Agostini caught a lucky bounce and wrapped it around to give St. Louis the lead. Despite a late-game flurry, it ended like that. Blues beat Caps 2-1.

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