Paralyzed high-school hockey player Jack Jablonski drops the puck for a ceremonial faceoff between Parise and Hendricks. (Photo via Defending the Blueline)

When George McPhee traded for Mike Ribeiro and signed Wojek Wolski, he formed perhaps the greatest shootout line-up in the history of hockey. That duo is rounded out by Matt Hendricks, who went 5 for 6 and embarrassed some of the best goalies in the game last season. The Capitals don’t even need Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom for the gimmick anymore.

But temper that confidence. On Sunday, NHL players including Zach Parise, new Caps defenseman Jack Hillen, and Hendricks, took the ice for a charity game benefiting Defending the Blue Line. The game brought 3,000 hockey-starved fans out to the University of Minnesota and raised an estimated $50,000 for the children of military parents. It was great, until Hendricks’ shootout attempt at the end of the game.

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2011-12 Year-End Review: Matt Hendricks

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

This was the Matt Hendricks’ year. This was the year that he broke out of his small, specific role and became a real contributor. This was the year that he made NHL goalies and women everywhere swoon with his dazzling shootout moves. This was the year that the most significant story about him was not centered around a ghastly eye injury.

Heck, he’s even got an RMNB t-shirt now. If that’s not the big time, we don’t know what is.

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We try to read lips, but it’s not easy to know what our Capitals are saying.  Not unless a HBO crew is following them, or they’re within earshot of Pierre McGuire.

Luckily, Karl AlznerJohn CarlsonMike Knuble, and Matt Hendricks got mic’d up for the second round of the playoffs. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rangers vs. Caps. Tears and swear words not included.

Originally posted by James Heuser of washingtoncapitals.tumblr.com.

There were a few common themes to the Capitals’ last postseason interviews, before they went their separate ways for summer. The first question posed was always about Dale Hunter, who has made the decision to return to the London Knights franchise in Ontario rather than stay on to coach the Caps. The team expressed universal admiration and gratitude for what he brought to the Capitals in his short tenure, often focusing less on his system than on the character and sense of accountability he was able to instill.

There was clear disappointment at the early ending to the season, but a different tone to the team’s assessment of their year than the year before — many of the Caps mentioned that they thought they were able to go out in a way that they feel better about this year, though of course they’d all still rather be playing hockey.

Read on for the details of Jay Beagle‘s injury, Brooks Laich standing outside Hunter’s window holding a boombox, and Hunter’s odd career model for Alexander Ovechkin.

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The Capsvengers: DC Mightiest Heroes

In a few short hours, the Capitals will face the Rangers in New York City to battle over who will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But we shouldn’t worry. Why? Because our team is made up of a bunch of super heroes.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

When Dale Hunter was first hired as Caps head coach, old-time fans of the team assumed #32 would bring his fiery nature behind the bench. Instead, Hunter has been cool, calm, and collected, rarely losing his composure or seeming visibly upset.

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Photo credit: Greg Fiume

After Mike Green rifled a shot past Henrik Lundqvist in the third period, the Capitals had to hold a one-goal lead for almost six minutes to win Game Four. With that in mind, Dale Hunter sent out the Wagons. Washington held the Rangers to only two shots on goal during that stretch — six blocked — and would hold on to win 3-2 and tie the series at 2.

“The Wagons got the job done with the blocked shots at the end,” Mike Green told reporters after the game. “Great team effort.”

So who are these Wagons that Green’s referring to, and what does that even mean? Glad you asked.

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As Caps fans, most of us were already aware that Matt Hendricks was awesome. Perhaps we were not aware until this season just how awesome he really was, but we’ve had our eyes opened one shootout stunner and monster playoffs shift at a time. As the games have gotten bigger, so has he. All-Star goaltenders everywhere have come to fear him, and superstars brace themselves when they see him about to finish a check.

In honor of the nickname Craig Laughlin coined for Hendy earlier in the season — “The Paralyzer” — we present our new Minnesota license plate inspired t-shirt, lovingly designed by Ian Oland. You can check the shirts out in our t-shirt store here. Also, shipping is free right now through May 8th when you place an order over $30. Just use the coupon code MOTHERSDAY12 at checkout.

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The Marathon: Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (3OT)

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

The Washington Capitals returned home with hopes of gaining a series lead over the New York Rangers. Fans got involved with some rousing “O! V!” cheers, the Caps got their offense moving, and the ice was as soupy as you’d expect in the D.C. spring. But this game was unlike any others. It was a thing of History. Capitals history. And you can probably guess from that alone how it turned out.

After a scoreless first, Ryan Callahan converted a power play by tapping in a puck served up for him after bouncing off of Matt Hendricks. John Carlson tied it up with a dangle-icious wrister that went top shelf.

The third period was tense, but offered no resolution to the game. And so we went to overtime.

Alex Ovechkin rang the post on a huge breakaway– leading to some goal lights and a bit of premature celebration, but it was waved off. And thus we needed double secret overtime.

Brian Boyle blocked Mike Rupp’s sure-thing game-winner, and thus we needed triple overtime.

In trip OT, Jeff Schultz made the block of his life using his pants. Yeah, his pants. That’s how weird stuff got.

But then Marian Gaborik coordinated with Brad Richards to finally end it with some behind-the-goal-line action.

Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (3OT).

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Matt Hendricks was in some kind of mood tonight. It’s already been the postseason of the grinders for the Washington Capitals, but Hendricks took that to a whole new level with 9 SOG and 10 hits, including one building-shaking crusher on Ryan McDonagh 4:20 into overtime. Video is below the jump.

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