On Saturday, several Washington Capitals players rented out Kettler Capitals IcePlex to scrimmage against local college kids. Two readers who attended, Lexi Martinez and Kate Hudson, share their experience below. Lexi did the write-up, and Kate snapped the photos. Enjoy!

Caps fans got a surprise Thursday night, when John Carlson took to Twitter to announce that he’d be joining a few teammates back on the ice at Kettler the following morning for something special. Along with Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Jeff Halpern, and former Capital Peter Bondra, John would be scrimmaging a team of college players from around the area. It was thrown together late and all for fun, but for me, it meant a little taste of the Caps hockey we’ve all been missing so much. Naturally, I was freaking out.

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RMNB’s Guide To Free Agency

Photo illustration by Ian Oland.

Guess what tomorrow is? That’s right! Canada Day!

It also happens to be NHL Free Agency, the wildest and kookiest hockey day of the year. The Capitals aren’t expected to make any world-shaking moves this year, but you never know. The spirit of capitalism can possess even the most level-headed of GMs and make them act like crazy people, so stay tuned here tomorrow while we update you on what’s going down. The Caps have a few holes to fill, a few free agents who will find new homes — and who knows, maybe McPhee will trade Backstrom for Jeff Skinner or something, and we’ll all have to drink ourselves into oblivion.

Anything is possible! But luckily, not everything is likely, so follow us below the jump for your Guide to Free Agency 2012.

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2011-12 Year-End Review: Jeff Halpern


Photo credit: ESRB

We have a soft spot for Jeff Halpern, a local boy who returned home this season after spending the last few years as an NHL journeyman. Even if he leaves the team this summer, we’ll always have the memories, and the nostalgic pictures of him in those terrible black uniforms.

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There were a few common themes to the Capitals’ last postseason interviews, before they went their separate ways for summer. The first question posed was always about Dale Hunter, who has made the decision to return to the London Knights franchise in Ontario rather than stay on to coach the Caps. The team expressed universal admiration and gratitude for what he brought to the Capitals in his short tenure, often focusing less on his system than on the character and sense of accountability he was able to instill.

There was clear disappointment at the early ending to the season, but a different tone to the team’s assessment of their year than the year before — many of the Caps mentioned that they thought they were able to go out in a way that they feel better about this year, though of course they’d all still rather be playing hockey.

Read on for the details of Jay Beagle‘s injury, Brooks Laich standing outside Hunter’s window holding a boombox, and Hunter’s odd career model for Alexander Ovechkin.

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The Hangover: Some Questions for the Offseason

Photo credit: Paul Bereswill

Hey you: thanks for reading RMNB. Crazy season, right?

We started the year with our Winter is Coming promotional series. We documented a crazy winning streak, and then its astonishing decline. We said goodbye to one coach and hello to another. We saw gruesome injuries. We analyzed the Caps’ struggles at and before the trade deadline in our Capitals During Wartime series. We made posters and signs to pump up the fans and the team both. And we tracked the Caps as they made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.

Yeah, we had exhaustive coverage this season, but there are so many questions left unanswered. Here are few we’d like to address this summer.

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Recap: Caps Stay Alive, Win Game Six 2-1


This is his Ranger-killing face. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

Braden Holtby has not lost back-to-back games in the NHL in 29 games now. The Caps are the first team ever to win four straight games following overtime losses.

Let’s talk about resilience. Two wins this series following some of the most heartbreaking losses in recent memory, two instances of the Caps picking themselves back up and putting themselves back together. Two times when it wasn’t just talk. For the second time this postseason, we’re going to seven games.

The Great 8 scored on the power play, 88 seconds in. I could not make this up if I tried. Chimera finished off a strong play from Semin to make it — stay with me — an actual two-goal lead. It lasted for most of the game, but unfortunately someone on NBC said “shutout”, so Marian Gaborik scored. Caps beat Rangers, 2-1. 

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Prescriptions for Game Four: Win It For Nicky Signs

Photo: Chris Gordon. Guy on TweetDeck: Adam Vingan

The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.

I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)

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Caps Beat Isles 3-2 (OT), Ovi’s OTGWG IS FTW

Screengrab by: @recordsandradio

If I had told you in October that a late-February game against the Islanders would be one of the most important games of the season, you would have laughed yourself sick. This one was big, though. All of them will be from now on. The Caps hung in there, didn’t stop fighting, tied up the game in the most completely improbable fashion possible — and then they won. You might not have seen that one coming.

Josh Bailey glided right through a defensive breakdown and scored the first goal. Matt Moulson deflected a long shot in front of Neuvirth to make it 2-0. Brouwer scored one Knuble-style in front of the net with the clock winding down. Brouwer then officially became a certified hero by tipping in a second goal with seconds left to go and took us to overtime. Alex Ovechkin ended it with a five-hole beauty, and you know what? We might believe. Just a little bit. Caps win, 3-2.

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A Good Weekend: Caps beat Leafs 4-2

Photo credit: Graig Abel

Not a bad way to go out. The Washington Capitals’ domination of the Toronto Maple Leafs was likely the last we’ll see from this version of the team. Knowing this, the Caps busted out all their greatest hits from the last few years. Let’s review!

Marcus Johansson wrapped around Reimer’s net for an unchallenged goal in the first minute. Alex Semin fought off Luke Schenn and scored five-hole. Jeff Halpern took two whacks and hit top shelf. Keith Aucoin finished a bang-bang sequence from Johansson and Ovechkin to make it 4-0.

Colby Armstrong cracked the shutout with a wristshot early in the third period. Tim Connolly got a greasy one on a power play to make it interesting, but they ran out of time. Caps beat Leafs 4-2.

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Canes beat Caps 5-0

You thought you’ve been through the hard times already, right? Wrong.

The Washington Capitals’ pathetic bumbling against the Carolina Hurricanes was their worst performance that I’ve had the dubious honor of documenting. This was the kind of game that costs people their jobs. Or at least it should.

No goal summary for you. Hurricanes beat Caps.

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