jeff-skinner-otgwg

Photo credit: Rob Carr

In overtime, unless you’re a really bad hockey team or extremely good at shootous, you play to win the game. A minute and fifteen seconds into overtime, the Washington Capitals tried to do exactly that, making an aggressive play in the Carolina Hurricanes’ offensive zone to try and secure that one extra standings point.

They paid the price for it however, as Jeff Skinner scored his hat-trick game-winning goal on a jailbreak odd-man rush into the Capitals defensive zone.

Every Capital on the ice minus Philipp Grubuaer shares blame on the goal. Let’s take a look at the bad reads and bad decisions. (This is as close as we’ll ever get to a Justin Bourne Systems Analyst post.)

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Skinned: Canes Thump Caps 4-1

Canes

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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jeff-skinner-laughs

It’s well documented that Carolina Hurricanes teen idol/hockey player Jeff Skinner was a figure skater as a kid (which is totally rad by the way). What I didn’t know is that the winger has actually busted out some figure-skating skillz in-game.

Thanks to an essential reblog by HoltbyFan4Life, here’s Skinner performing a single axel to cleverly avoid a Brad Marchand trip/hit at the red line.

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This photo is smoldering with sex appeal. (Photo via welshhockeyfan)

A few weeks ago, Mike Ribeiro got in his first NHL fight– against Brad Marchand. It was a site to behold: the teams’ two tiniest players wildly throwing haymakers at — or maybe just near– each other. The bout was more cute than vicious, and on Thursday night we got another adorable dust-up a lot like it.

With a a minute left in the third period and the Caps clutching to a 2-1 lead, John Erskine shoved the living shit out of Eric Staal, just to let him know that he didn’t appreciate the Canes’ captain swinging his stick at him like he was Chris Davis or something. Staal pushed back, and then all 10 players on the ice converged in an sweaty swarm of hockey hate.

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In the calendar year of 2012, there had been only one Washington Capital regular who had gone without a penalty. That player? Dmitry Orlov.

That streak ended spectacularly tonight.

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Carolina Hurricanes Preview: Point Break

Doug Johnson: Puck Buddy, dog owner, hockey fan, public intellectual. Follow @PuckBuddys.  

The Pregame: So you gotta give credit where it’s due. Whatever your political leanings (ours is usually doubled over, holding our stomachs, in the loo) that ol’ Newton Leroy Gingrich gets points for some sassy thinking. Seems then-Speaker Stay-Puft, some six years into an affair with a young House staffer (and Tiffany connoisseur) named Calista, basically told his wife Marianne that she would need to “share” him with his mistress. (There we are in the loo again.) At least, this according to ex-wife Marianne – no, not the one he divorced while she was in the hospital, that was a totes different wife! – who basically told Newt to get stuffed. He dumps her, marries the mistress who promptly begins a powerful benziodiazepine regimen (we’re making that part up) and now all is lollipops, the end.

We bring this up, in part because it’s still a larf-riot, but also because we’re doing some sassy thinkin’ of our own. Let’s just say, completely hypothetical here, that you’re the GM of a professional sports team with loads of potential but some underperforming talent. What to do? You want to keep him; sure, who doesn’t? But maybe you could also find a comely, pliable team somewhere else that may just want to share a little of his upkeep and tending while making you look genius. Everyone wins, right?

And thus American civic life dies a muffled death.

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[Editor’s note: We are proud to welcome writers Craig Brownstein and Doug Johnson to the Russian Machine! You might already know Craig and Doug from their gay-focused hockey blog, Puck Buddys. You are hereby required to follow them on Twitter: @PuckBuddys. Puck Buddys is increasing its scope from Caps-centric coverage to the whole NHL, so you’ll see C+D here a lot, especially for game previews. Please give them a very warm welcome and let us know if they break anything expensive.]

And now, a new season kicks off with an ominous sign of the Hockpocalypse – teh gays are now writing about the Caps for RMNB: a risky collaboration between the established Russian royalty (or oligarchy), and the gauche, nouveau riche upstarts.  The cheeky bastards of the hockey world will occasionally share insightful analysis, anatomy lessons, and keen fashion sense with a wider cross-section of the Caps fanbase. The questions on everyone’s lips?  1) Who’s going to embarrass the other first?  Answer: We’re demonstrating that right now. 2) How did RMNB end up with us? Answer: Dave Nichols of District Sports Page already grabbed all the talented free agents.

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Fancystats Crash the ESPN Mock Draft

Anze Kopitar

Anze Kopitar celebrates a goal last year against the Blackhawks. (Photo credit: Harry How)

Editor’s note: You can win a 1-year subscription to ESPN Insider and a $25 gift certificate to Front Page VA by guessing Neil’s first two draft picks tonight. Check out the details on our Facebook page.

As part of ESPN.com’s NHL family, I was invited to participate in their fantasy hockey draft this past Tuesday. Just me and guys like Craig Custance, John Buccigross, and Scott Cullen.

No pressure.

Victoria Matiash has already given a bird’s eye view of the draft, but I thought I would run through my thought process on various picks and give you some ideas for your fantasy draft. Plus, you can see how I do for the season because we are making the results public.

Here were the ground rules for the draft:

Participants included, in original order, Craig Custance, Tristan Cockcroft, Tim Kavanagh, John Buccigross, Pierre Becquey, Michael Hume, Victoria Matiash, Neil Greenberg, Sean Allen and Scott Cullen. Categories include goals, assists, power-play points, plus/minus, penalty minutes, shots on goal and average time on ice for skaters and wins, save percentage and goals-against average for goaltenders. Slots to fill include nine forwards, five defensemen, one “utility” skater, two goaltenders and a five-man bench.

My philosophy was simple: grab young, healthy, talented players with upside. Let others worry if Patrick Kane would be healthy or if Sergei Kostitsyn can once again score 20 goals on less than 100 shots.

I had the eight pick. With my editor Mike Hume drafting before me (he knows which players I fancy) and Cullen having back-to-back picks behind me I knew I had to make strategic decisions.

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Photo credit: Ethan Miller

Wednesday was a night of hardware in the NHL as the league’s annual awards show took place in Las Vegas. The night’s biggest winners? Corey Perry of the Ducks picked up the Hart, Ryan Kesler of the Canucks hoisted the Selke, baby-faced Jeff Skinner of the ‘Canes took home the Calder, Stanley Cup champion Bruin Tim Thomas won the Vezina and Washington fan favorite Disco Dan Bylsma of the Pens presented with the Jack Adams Award.

So how did the Capitals fare?

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