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Photo: Justin K. Aller

Bruce Boudreau began the 2011-12 season with his team as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. In his last two seasons, he followed up a Presidents’ Trophy with an Eastern Conference regular-season title. Now, he had seven straight wins to start the year. A little over a month later, Boudreau, the fastest coach in NHL history to 200 wins, was gone. The man who resurrected hockey in Washington was replaced by two coaches who slowly bled the greatness out of the Capitals.

Just under four years later, Boudreau has found himself in a similar spot. Now the coach of the Anaheim Ducks, he had led his team to within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals the year before. But the start of the 2015-16 season was a catastrophe. His team scored 10 goals in the entire month of October. They finished the month with a single victory. Boudreau didn’t have any answers.

“I don’t know,” he said after his team threw away another game on October 27. “I’m sort of at a loss right now.”

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Photos: Scott Rovak 

Multiple Capitals made history Saturday night in St. Louis. All eyes were on Braden Holtby — including Martin Brodeur’s — as he attempted to tie the Hall of Fame goalie’s record of 48 wins in a single season. With a 5-1 victory, he did just that. Brodeur took 78 games to reach the mark. Holtby did it in just 66 games. Time for class photos!

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You guys, it finally happened. With the Caps 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, Braden Holtby just tied Martin Brodeur’s single-season record for wins, a record Brodeur’s held for nine years. Holtby reached 48 wins in 12 fewer games than Brodeur, who was in attendance to see the feat.

The Capitals mobbed Holtby after the game to celebrate.

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Braden Holtby sat at the far end of the Capitals locker room for a few minutes, staring straight ahead. As reporters began to file in, Holtby walked out of the room to gather himself, returning about 10 minutes later. Earlier in the night, he held a 3-1 lead against the New York Islanders, just 13 minutes away from tying Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur for the most wins in a single season. With the Capitals possessing the best third period goal differential in the league and a significant shot advantage, Verizon Center roared as every save put him closer to the NHL record of 48 wins.

But in the final minutes, Holtby buckled, making an elementary miscue that ended up in the back of his net, putting the Islanders within one.

“I just, I made a mistake and it changed the momentum,” a dejected Holtby said of the play after the game. “It was just one of those plays I got caught between covering it and putting it in the corner, and when you’re in between decisions, it never ends up well.”

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Photo: NHL

The New Jersey Devils began a week-long celebration to honor one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time, Martin Brodeur. On Saturday, Brodeur was the honoree in the Caps-Devils ceremonial faceoff. But instead of the two teams’ captains participating, Brodeur dropped the puck between starting goaltenders, Cory Schneider and Braden Holtby.

It was fun, awkward, and silly.

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YESSHHH. (Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan)

A night after scoring his 400th NHL goal, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin didn’t rest on his laurels. Whatever that means. I don’t even know what a laurel is.

Ovi scored career goal number 401 on future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. The tally also just so happened to be his 30th on the season, which leads the entire dang league.

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[Ed note: After a year of doggedly researching and documenting the panoply of awfulness that are the Washington Capitals’ rival cities and teams, the PuckBuddys‘  physicians grew concerned, recommending they take a nice, quiet rest somewhere so they could forget temporarily about hockey and focus instead on finger paints and macaroni art. Helpfully, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr gave them just the right opportunity to lay down their burden.

Now, no longer able to keep them involuntarily committed, the Buddy’s have returned to crash our net and empty the NHL’s septic tanks that you, wisely, would rather not. Because that’s just the sort of stand-up guys they are.

However, we caution they are still a bit on edge. So please, everyone…no sudden movements.]

The Scene: The pioneering urban anthropologist Ulf Hannerz once remarked “That which most repels us in other cultures is very often what lies buried and secret at the heart of our own.”  Well, no he didn’t; I just made that up. But then again, I doubt that Ulf ever visited New Jersey.

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RMNB’s Guide To Free Agency

Photo illustration by Ian Oland.

Guess what tomorrow is? That’s right! Canada Day!

It also happens to be NHL Free Agency, the wildest and kookiest hockey day of the year. The Capitals aren’t expected to make any world-shaking moves this year, but you never know. The spirit of capitalism can possess even the most level-headed of GMs and make them act like crazy people, so stay tuned here tomorrow while we update you on what’s going down. The Caps have a few holes to fill, a few free agents who will find new homes — and who knows, maybe McPhee will trade Backstrom for Jeff Skinner or something, and we’ll all have to drink ourselves into oblivion.

Anything is possible! But luckily, not everything is likely, so follow us below the jump for your Guide to Free Agency 2012.

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New Jersey Devils Pregame: Happy Non-denominational Tidings

Craig is a Puck Buddy. This is his story. @PuckBuddys

Ohai Caps fans! Coinciding with Coach Hunter’s latest round of mind-boggling line changes, we’re changing up things today on the pregamer, too.  No, Doug hasn’t been sent down to Hershey with the other famous Caps redhead, Cody “Swoon” Eakin, but he’s taking a short break from cranking out his inimitable prose, obscure cultural references (he’s still working on Cy Twombly), and his proselytizing on behalf of the radical gay agenda.

Actually, he’s wrapping up the last of his community service obligations that resulted from his conviction in that 2011 World Juniors point-shaving scandal. And truth be told, he was also the one who bought all that liquor for those Russian kids. But luckily for all involved, including international aviation authorities, the team behaved responsibly on that flight home after their big win. In fact, we just heard from a few of our old pals on last year’s Russian team – and even they were appalled by Alec Baldwin’s airline antics last week.

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New Jersey Devils: a Week from Hell, a Team from Jersey

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Editor’s Note: Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for RMNB. There’s this new thing called Twitter; look into it.

The Pre Game: Some weeks…  they exist to test our mettle. Or remind us of what’s truly important. This has been one of those weeks.

Joe Frazier

First came news of the passing of Smokin’ Joe Frazier. A brawler of the first order and a retired sports ambassador of highest rank, we were jolted first thing Monday to learn of his death at just 67. “Respect and admiration,” is how Muhammad Ali remembers him. We join our fellow Michigander in his descant.

We just wish it were with that kind of dignity and accolade that Joe Paterno could’ve retired, but this week wouldn’t have it. Sucked into the vortex of a repugnant scandal swirling around him or partly of his making (everyone else is judging so we leave it up to you), JoePa has coached his last Big Ten game, just one week after achieving what must have been a long-held goal – most wins of any Division I coach, ever. He has coached at Penn State as long as I’ve drawn breath. The alleged horrors of Coach Sandusky and the criminal process will stand on their own. The lingering acrid smell of individuals with their eye on something other than the children’s and players’ well-being hangs foul over Happy Valley.

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