Ovechkin speaks to the media

Miss the media? “Not really,” says Ovechkin. (Photo credit: @SWhyno)

This morning, a bunch of Washington Capitals players jumped back on the ice for an informal practice. Those who skated include Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Mike Green, Mike Ribeiro, John Carlson, Michal Neuvirth, Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Jack Hillen, and John Erskine.

At 11am, Caps general manager George McPhee then spoke to the press for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth. GMGM revealed that injured defenseman Dmitry Orlov is “improving” but questionable for opening night (but you already knew that), and side-stepped questions on Nicklas Backstrom’s health, acknowledging that the team can’t examine him until a new CBA is ratified. Hershey Bears defense prospect Cameron Schilling will also be given a shot to make the team out of training camp. McPhee’s full comments are below.

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Capitals Players React to NHL Lockout Ending on Twitter

John Carlson

John Carlson’s hair at the Redskins game. (Via @DCSportsBog)

At 5:45 on Sunday morning, we learned that the NHL and NHLPA had reached an agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement. Washington Capitals players took to Twitter, and yes, they were happy.

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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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