John Carlson Packs Team USA Bag For Sochi (Photo)

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Photo: @AdamVingan

It’s break-up time for the Washington Capitals: some players are going on vacation, some players are driving back to AHL Hershey, and five others are flying to Sochi on Sunday to compete in the Winter Olympics.

In the locker room after the the Caps 3-0 shutout over the Devils, John Carlson was caught by NBC Washington’s Adam Vingan packing his super fancy-looking Team USA bag. Is that persian leather?

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Photo: Patrick Smith

On Thursday night, the Capitals registered an important pair of points against the streaking Winnipeg Jets. The game wasn’t the only big event. Eight Olympians from the Jets and Caps were honored in a pre-game ceremony. It was capped off with U.S. Secretary of State dropping the puck between Team USA’s Blake Wheeler and John Carlson. With the Olympics already underway, Carlson talked about the experience and his thoughts on Sochi after the game.

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RMNB Talks to Secretary of State John Kerry

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Bros. (Photo: James Heuser)

Bros. (Photo: James Heuser)

Kerry stands at attention during the Star-Spangled Banner. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

In DC, hockey seems to be all but forgotten. Not by the residents, but by many of those who come here to govern. Capitol Hill is filled with baseball and football fans, and President Barack Obama is an enthusiastic basketball fan.

A few, though, like to lace up the skates. Until he was named America’s 68th Secretary of State last year, the annual lawmakers versus lobbyists hockey game was headlined by John Kerry, a former Yale University hockey player and senator from Massachusetts. The former Democratic nominee for president appeared at the State of the Union in 2012 with two black eyes and a broken nose, injuries he sustained in a pickup hockey game.

With the Sochi games kicking off earlier in the day, Secretary Kerry, a massive Bruins fan, visited Verizon Center to wish the eight Olympic athletes from the Jets and Caps well.

Before dropping the puck between Team USA’s Blake Wheeler and John Carlson, Secretary Kerry addressed the Capitals locker room. He also talked to RMNB in a one-on-one interview. Yeah, we’re surprised too.

Check out my conversation with the Secretary of State:

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United States Secretary of State John Kerry is in the house tonight and boy is he a busy dude. After meeting with Washington Capitals Olympians Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Martin Erat, Kerry talked shopped with Caps coach and hockey hall of famer Adam Oates, who used to play for Kerry’s beloved Boston Bruins. Kerry also did an interview for CRL with Elliot In The Morning, accepted a Caps jersey from Majority Owner Ted Leonsis, and then dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game.

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Photo: @juliamae91

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is two games away from flying to Sochi, Russia, to participate in his first ever Olympic Games. Beyond some patriotic mittens and a press conference in front of The White House, the fanfare around Carlson’s honor has been, at least in my opinion, kinda tame.

Tonight, that’ll get kicked up another notch. During pre-game warm-ups, Reader Julia D. will be holding the sign above. It reads Good Luck Carly! Bring home the gold! It is awesome and I love it.

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While the Washington Capitals haven’t had their best season on the ice, they have graduated to a new level of awesome when messing with each other off-ice. So far this season, we’ve been seen a Brouwer Bomb, a Backy Bomb (my personal favorite), and Joel Ward styling and profiling during a Karl Alzner interview.

On Sunday, during a national broadcast game against the Detroit Red Wings, Alex Ovechkin got into on the act, this time messing with fellow Olympian John Carlson during a pre-game interview.

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This makes an excellent creepy wallpaper. Click to enlarge. (Photos by Patrick McDermott)

In 2008, the Washington Capitals launched Courage Caps, a program to benefit military charities through the sale of team-branded hats and shirts. This year the program will fund TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which provides support for families of killed American solders.

This year’s Courage Caps promotion will formally launch on February 4, when the team will put the merchandise on sale online as well at Verizon Center and Kettler. The day before, Jack Hillen will skate with some families the program has helped.

On Wednesday, the Caps sent us some photos of the new gear. Now in its seventh year, Courage Caps is starting to run out of military themes, but I think winter digi-camo look is a good one.

The chosen models, however, is where we’ll have our fun. Everything starts off well with John Carlson, the team’s resident US Olympian. Next in the gallery are Karl Alzner and Nicklas Backstrom, two of Washington’s most docile heartthrobs and noted not-Americans. I would gone with maybe an angry Casey Wellman, a Californian, draped only in an American flag. Or maybe Connor Carrick, feeding a Nathan’s hot dog to a bald eagle. Either way, it’s all for a good cause.

Here are the images of this year’s edition:

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Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Editor’s note: The Washington Capitals have lost seven straight games. Things are dire right now. But this story is why we love hockey and have the best readers in the world. Michael R., a regular commenter on the site, left this comment in our game recap. We felt compelled to share it with all of you. Take it away, Michael.

Normally, when I go to games, for financial reasons, I get seats in the upper level. But for Alex Semin’s first game back in a non-Capitals uniform (a few years ago), I wanted to sit close, so I sprung for lower level tickets, row C, by the faceoff circle of the Caps-shoot-twice end, on the penalty-box side. With 30 seconds left in the game, the Caps held a 3-0 lead. Most of the fans were packing up their belongings, not paying close attention to the game. Suddenly (and I’m still not sure how this happened), the puck came over the glass fast, and hit an approximately 12-year-old boy sitting in front if me. He was woozy, his mother was (understandably) freaking out, and myself and others nearby were trying to get the attention of ushers/Verizon Center medical staff.

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John Carlson’s Patriotic Mittens (Photo)

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Photo credit: @WashCaps

Team USA revealed their Ralph Lauren-designed Opening Ceremony uniforms this morning. They are hideous. Less hideous: these patriotic gloves worn by Captain America John Carlson at Kettler Capitals Iceplex today.

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Johansson (red) laughs during the preseason Capitals Alumni Game. (Photo: Chris Gordon)

The Washington Capitals’ defense allows the second most shots per game in the NHL. They’ve put perhaps their best defensive prospect, Dmitry Orlov, through recall-scratch-repeat hell. Now that Orlov is finally playing, he’s paired with a guy who has a similar skill set, Mike Green.

Then there’s the frequent shuffling of the Caps blue line deck. Due to injuries, on-ice struggles, waiver pickups, and call-ups from the minors, Washington has used twelve different defenseman this season. Just about every blue liner in the organization has gotten a shot as part of the 2013-14 Caps D corps.

As we head towards the stretch run, the Caps seemed to have settled on a lineup for now: John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Mike Green, Dmitry OrlovJohn Erskine, and Connor Carrick. Though Washington’s defense has been its biggest flaw, its recent improvement may also their best chance at making — and succeeding — in the playoffs.

A few weeks ago, I spoke with assistant coach Calle Johansson, the man who runs the Caps’ blue line, and asked him about some of his decisions, including some of the positives from this season.

The full transcript is below.

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