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Photos: Amanda Bowen

On Saturday, the Washington Capitals played their final regular season game against the New York Rangers. They did so in their Winter Classic jerseys.

Here’s the thing: the Capitals need a new third jersey. Wouldn’t these be a great fit for that – at least for the immediate future? I went to the game and took photos at warmups. As you can see, these sweaters look just as good inside as they did outside.

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JerseysOffOurBacks (11 of 15)

On Saturday, the Caps took on the New York Rangers with a chance at securing home ice for their first round matchup with the Islanders with a victory. Instead, they were easily defeated in their final regular season game. Afterwards, the players didn’t seem to care much. After missing the postseason last year, the Caps are heading to the playoffs for the 25th time in franchise history, finishing with more than 100 points for the eight time ever.

“I feel like if we play our game and we have the right mentality and the right focus, then we can go head-to-head with the best in the league,” head coach Barry Trotz said after the game.

Instead of moping around after the loss, the Caps held their annual Jerseys Off Our Backs ceremony, with winning fans drawing a player’s number before getting his jersey. Highlights included Karl Alzner not wearing pants, Braden Holtby giving his giant jersey to a tiny fan and Nicklas Backstrom getting very friendly with someone who could be his mom.

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I Got the Jersey Off Eric Fehr’s Back

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Every year I’ve enjoyed watching the Jerseys off Our Backs ceremony. It was always fun watching fans and players interacting in that fashion. And every year, afterwards I would turn to my mother and say, “Someday that’s gonna be me.”

Last Tuesday I came home from work to the surprise of a lifetime from my mother.

“So, I just got off the phone with our new ticket rep… She just called to say ‘hello’ and chat…. Oh, and by the way we’re doing Jerseys Off Our Back on Sunday.”

I almost cried when I heard those words. Our family had never won ANY prizes through the Season Ticket Holder contests, so this was a gigantic surprise.  For the next few days, it was all I had on my mind: Who would I get?? Someone I adore?? Will I be able to retain composure, or would I be overcome by teh feels and crumple to the ice in a teary ball?

Sunday came around, and two periods of hockey later, I was leaving 104 for the last time this season to check in for the event. I ended up being early, so I caught the first half of the third period from the top of the steps. But soon, we all had envelopes in our hands and were making our way downstairs to wait for the end of the game. Overtime and the shootout was spent in a hallway by the visiting locker room, so we had no TV to watch the end of the game on. Thankfully, the guy in front of me got CSN on his smartphone so we were able to see the (unfortunate) end of the game. Once the Lightning had made their way to the locker room, we all headed out onto the ice!

My hands were shaking. I was gonna be third to go, which was better than first, but I still had the jitters. Soon enough the spotlight was on me and I was told to open my envelope. I was overjoyed by the number inside: 16.

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[Editor’s note: On Sunday, the Washington Capitals played their final game of the season, a 1-0 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. After the game, select Caps fans were brought out onto the ice to receive jerseys off the players’ backs. RMNB reader Kate Yost was one of those fortunate few. She describes her experience below.]

Kate wins Scarlett Caps competition.

Kate wins Scarlet Caps competition.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the Scarlet Caps posted about their newest contest for Fan Appreciation Week- “Pin a Moment, Win a Moment.” They asked the contestants to post a picture on Pinterest of their favorite Capitals 2013-2014 moment. My family and friends have a running joke (that we’re actually not really joking about) that I’m “Caps lucky.” Basically, I have a pretty solid track record of winning Caps-related contests. So naturally, when I saw this contest, I entered.

My husband, Justin, and I are both huge Caps fans. We also just got married this past December. So when it came time to plan our bachelor/bachelorette parties, we both decided to have ours at a Caps game. Obviously, we picked different games on different nights to avoid running into each other… but that’s beside the point. For my favorite 2013-2014 season moment, I decided to choose the evening of my bachelorette party. It was a ton of fun celebrating my upcoming wedding with my family, bridesmaids and friends, who are a lovely mixture of seasoned hockey fans and girls who accidentally call the puck a “ball.”

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Photo: @m0tar

On Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche held their fan appreciation night at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Just like the Capitals, each Avs player gave the jersey off his back to one adoring fan.

After making 30 saves in 65 minutes of work (plus a shootout), a very tired Semyon Varlamov was the first to give his jersey away.

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[Editor’s note: Renee, a long-time Caps season ticket-holder, won the ultimate prize in the Caps annual “Jerseys Off Our Backs” event on Fan Appreciation night. Here’s her story.]

The "Jersey Off Our Backs" winners hang out at ice level and watch the Boston Bruins walk into the locker room.

The “Jersey Off Our Backs” winners hang out at ice level and watch the Boston Bruins walk into the locker room.

I started off my Friday like anyone else — scrambling to get work done before the week ended. But one phone call ended my productivity: I had been randomly selected for the “Jersey Off Our Backs” event on Fan Appreciation Day. As a longtime season-ticket holder, this is one event I’ve watched with awe – even back when the Caps would toss their signed jerseys haphazardly over the glass to waiting fans. Long story short, I didn’t get much done on Friday.

Fast-forward to game day. I watched periods one and two like anyone else — anxious to have the Caps produce on what looked to be good play despite the 0-2 score at the end of the 2nd. As the 3rd period started, I gathered with a crowd of lucky fans in the concourse. Count was taken and we were ultimately asked to pick a random manila envelope from our host — the envelope that held each of our future jersey’s numbers. We were escorted underground to wait for the end of the game. None of us saw Mike Green’s goals to tie it up, but we heard the crowd’s amazing cheers and we celebrated too. We followed tweets and text messages from friends and family in the arena, trying to harness the excitement of broken glass and overtime. The horn sounded a win and the crowd erupted in a frenzy. From the end of the hall, we watched the Bruins, heads down, trek to their locker room. And then it was our time.

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