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Photos via @CapitalsPR

In a month and a half, we’ll officially be in the hockey dead zone. There’ll be a new Stanley Cup Champion (either Jeff Schultz or Henrik Lundqvist). The draft will be over, as will development camp. Most free agents will have found their new teams.

But right smack dab in the middle of the most boring part of the year, Inova Blood Services will be hosting a blood drive at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday, July 26th from 7am to 5pm. For those who schedule an appointment and donate blood (do it here), you’ll receive a bobblehead and a Capitals t-shirt.

This is no ordinary bobblehead. This is The Big Cheese himself, Joel Ward. And it may very well be the most impeccably made ceramic figurine I have ever seen (please forgive me, Joel Rechlicz Bobblefist).

Just take a look at these pics.

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Joel Ward: 2013-14 Season Review

Deep breaths, everybody. Just let the puns wash over you.

For a man who once got stuck in a bathroom, Joel Ward‘s season was anything but poop. Ward somehow managed to wash away the crap that made other Caps stink this season. What we got from Wardo instead was an unlikely career-best season, and I’m not just polishing a you-kn0w-what here.

(Okay, I’m done. That was awful. I am sorry.)

By the Numbers

82 Games played
15.7 Average time on ice per game
24 Goals
25 Assists
47.4% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
54.5% Goal percentage during 5v5
10.3% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
92.4% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

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Joel Ward celebrates victory with teammates Ryan Ellis, Mark Scheifele and Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward scored two goals at the World Championship on Saturday as Team Canada beat Slovakia, 4-1, marking the first and second international goals of his career.

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Photo: Brad Mills

Classy. The Washington Nationals are not as near and dear to my heart as the Baltimore Orioles, but they did something super awesome on Thursday, when they had Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward throw out the first pitch before their game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ward getting the opportunity to throw out the first pitch after a career year is cool enough on its own, but doubly so because it came on Jackie Robinson Day at Nats Park. Ward wears #42 in honor of the Dodger legend.

After getting some advice from Nats pitcher Ross Detwiler, Ward stepped to the mound confidently and delivered a perfect strike. Though the heave was a bit of a moonshot.

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Despite not making the playoffs, a lot of Washington Capitals players still have some hockey left to play. Last week, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin announced that Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and he will be representing Team Russia in the 2014 World Championships happening in Minsk, Belarus.

But what of the Caps’ Swedes? After winning a silver medal in Sochi, Marcus Johansson will likely not represent his home country due to a broken arm. On Thursday, Pär Mårts, Sweden’s national team coach, told Svenska Dagbladet that Nicklas Backstrom has turned down an invitation to play in the tournament this year.

When asked why, Mårts said Backstrom won’t be playing “for family reasons.”

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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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We needed this. With all the furor surrounding the Caps currently, Joel Ward and Jason Chimera helpfully hit the release valve by cutting an Aprils Fools video posing as Caps media men John Walton and Mike Vogel.

In a skull cap and wig, the third-line wingers hosted the pre-game  Two-Man Advantage video. Ward repeated Walton’s catch phrase three or seven times, and Chimera rattled off stats in a meaningless number salad– all in an uncanny impersonation of Vogel.

This is great. Please watch it. I promise it will cheer you up.

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Joel Ward Hides in Weeds, Scores 20th Goal of Year

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Photo: Paul Frederiksen

Only one line on the Capitals is made up entirely of double-digit scorers: the third line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward. As we’ve mentioned before, they have been Washington’s top scoring threat outside of Alex Ovechkin this season. Sunday, Ward tallied 20 goals for the first time in career, while also assisting on Chimera’s foot-goal earlier in the first period.

“My karma paid off,” Ward told me after the game. “For me, I just hide in the weeds and try to look for some loose pucks.”

Ward had already topped his previous career high of 17 goals on the first of the month in Boston. Always a solid checking line forward, the 33-year-old has taken off as an offensive force this season. He already has six more goals this year than he did in his first two seasons with the Caps combined (six in ’11-’12, eight in ’13). Caps head coach Adam Oates has also given Ward a prime spot down low on the power play this year, which accounted for his goal against the Leafs. Per your boy Mike Vogel, members of the third line have been on the ice for 10 of Washington’s last 13 goals.

“I’ve counted on Wardo and Chimmer all year long,” Oates. “They penalty kill, power play. Big bodies that we count on for a lot of minutes to get territory for us. It’s good to see them rewarded because you don’t get a lot of accolades based on that, doing grunt work.”

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Dustin Penner’s No-Look Pass to Joel Ward (GIF)

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In his seventh game as a Washington Capital, Dustin Penner finally earned his first point. Penner sent a dandy of a pass to Joel Ward to put the Caps up 3-0 in the first period.

During a first period power play, Penner occupied the low-man spot. Evgeny Kuznetsov hit him up from the right halfboard. Penner put those soft hands to use, sending a sneaky backhand pass to Joel Ward on the other side of the slot.

Ward got the lay up.

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Gambling with Play Money: Caps Casino Night in Photos

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Yep. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals held their fourth annual Casino Night at the Pentagon City Sheraton. Fans had the opportunity blow fake money gambling with their favorite players, as well as dishing out real money on a live auction featuring big-ticket experiences, a silent auction on equipment and memorabilia, and a raffle. The money made from Casino Night will benefit the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. The team has raised nearly $1 million on past Casino Nights, and the live auction this year took in over $40,000.

“We did a got of research on craps,” Karl Alzner, who was there with his wife Mandy as well as her mom and grandparents, told me. “The correct throw and the technique and all that.”

“Even though it’s play money it’s still a lot of fun,” Alzner added. “We get to dress up.”

When I talked to Tom Wilson about the night, he had one main takeaway.

“Ovi’s pretty risky,” Wilson said.

Below, take a look at some of my photos from the night.

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