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The Washington Capitals are the league’s best team and lead the Eastern Conference by 16 points halfway through the season. They are dominating for a lot of reasons. You could point to the Caps’ league-leading power play and fifth-rated penalty kill, Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin being Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin, the rise of Evgeny Kuznetsov, or Brian MacLellan’s ace offseason acquisitions of Justin Williams and TJ Oshie.

I think one thing that sets this Caps team a part is the selfless brand of hockey they play.

We got another glimpse of this Tuesday during the second period of the Caps-Blue Jackets game. With the Caps up 5-2, future Lady Byng candidate Marcus Johansson forechecked in the corner with Blue Jackets defenseman Justin Falk. Falk, potentially trying to spark his terrible team in a hopeless game, began mauling the peaceful Swede. Then suddenly, Falk’s gloves were off. He wanted to fight Johansson. I’m not sure why. Johansson has zero career fights.

And that’s when fourth liner Michael Latta sprung into action.

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Marcus Johansson Suspended Two Games

Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson has been suspended two games by NHL Player Safety for his illegal check to Thomas Hickey’s head. This suspension comes despite Johansson’s standing as one of the NHL’s least penalized players. He’s only been whistled for three minors this season.

Here’s the NHL’s full explanation.

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Marcus Johansson Will Have Hearing With Player Safety

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Washington Capitals forward Marcus “The Mauler” Johansson will be speaking to NHL Player Safety after his check to the head of the Islanders’ Thomas Hickey.

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Last November, former Swedish Idol judge and hockey/media guy Daniel Breitholtz did a bit where Nicklas Backstrom literally tattooed his arm at a DC tattoo parlor for a video on Aftonbladet, Sweden’s biggest newspaper. For their next trick, Backstrom and Breitholtz teamed up to mess with Caps’ Swedes Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky.

The prank was pretty basic. Host Daniel Breitholtz is supposed to conduct a serious interview with Johansson and Burakovsky. But what they don’t know is Breitholtz is getting all of the questions from Caps center Nicklas Backstrom through his earpiece. Once Marcus is let in on the prank, they team up to continue the fun against a very confused Burakovsky.

There’s a reference to Swedes on bikes.

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Photo: Jamie Sabau

The Capitals made it nearly halfway through the 2015-16 NHL season without suffering back-to-back loses, winning nine straight games in December. But with Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Jay Beagle missing from the lineup, the Caps dropped two games in a row against two of the league’s worst teams. The games were close, with Brandon Saad scoring with just over a minute left to send Saturday’s game against Columbus to a shootout after the Capitals almost came back against Carolina on Thursday. Still, the loses are disappointing for a team that desperately wants to raise the Stanley Cup this year.

“It’s going to have to be better, it’s that simple,” goalie Braden Holtby, who took just his sixth loss of the season against Columbus, said.

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Photo: Mike Ehrmann

During Hockey Night In Canada, Elliotte Friedman took part in a Headlines segment and spoke about several players who are potentially on the trading block. One Capital in particular made that list.

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The Washington Capitals are up early against Mike Green’s Detroit Red Wings, and it’s all thanks to Justin William’s tap-in.

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As Chris wrote earlier today, Alex Ovechkin appears to be getting back on track on the power play with power-play  goals in two straight games. Saturday, the Russian machine conjured some black magic to get a power-play assist.

You have to see this.

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Starting out in the league, Marcus Johansson‘s reputation was for finesse and playmaking. Last season, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz asked him to shoot more. In turn, Johansson more than doubled his goal total from the previous year, cracking 20 goals for the first time in his career. Now it seems the 25-year-old Swede might have added another element to his game: his butt. In Washington’s 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday, Johansson’s presence in front of Carolina goalie Cam Ward led to two goals, including Nicklas Backstrom’s game winner.

“It’s part of scoring goals and getting goals for the team,” Johansson said Sunday. “Someone has to screen the goalie because they’re so good nowadays. You can’t just shoot and expect it to go in. If that’s what it takes to get goals, I’m happy to go there.”

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They’re Back: Capitals Beat Devils 5-3

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Photo credit: Patrick Smith

Greetings, fans! After five and a half months away, fishing, muddin’, and engagin’, the Washington Capitals returned to Verizon Center to start a new season with nervous anticipation.

The team laid out the red carpet carpet before the game, showcasing the team’s finest knit ties and undercuts. Afterwards, however, there was hockey to play. On ice. For real.

The Capitals got off to a slow start, going almost five minutes without a shot attempt early in the first period. Then Evgeny Kuznetsov hooked somebody. Uh oh. Naturally, Jason Chimera and Justin Williams immediately blew right past the Devils defense for a short-handed tick-tack-toe. Then, just two minutes and 28 seconds later, the unthinkable. Brooks Orpik, who missed all of the preseason with a wrist injury, scored. It was his first as a Capital and it came on a one-timer.

The Caps, though, like to disappear after they score. Maybe they go play with their ferrets. I don’t know. Something dumb probably. Anyway, because the Capitals played with their ferrets the Devils scored twice in under three minutes, first Adam Henrique and then Eric Gelinas. Then nothing happened for 25 minutes.

That was, until, Alex Ovechkin happened. The captain went end to end, blowing past John Moore before flipping a delicious, crisp and refreshing wrist shot top shelf on New Jersey netminder Keith Kinkaid. Marcus Johansson added another. Oh, and then Matt Niskanen got himself an empty netter. But wait, the Devils came back with one of their own. Shower of goals! Caps beat Devils 5-3!

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