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Screaming Katy Perry meet Screaming Michael Latta.

Last night, as Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson lobbed a harmless shot on net, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard gave up a huge rebound. The puck bounced off Howard’s right pad and ricocheted right onto Michael Latta‘s stick. It was a well-deserved gift from the hockey gods: Latta is working hard and crashing the net. The 22-year-old center knew what to do next: he lifted the puck on his backhand towards the right corner. Nylon meshing splashed. Goal! Tie game! Latta had scored his first NHL goal!

Latta skated towards the end boards and turned towards the Caps bench, his back to the glass. He let out the most primal of primal roars. Like a mama lion to the hyena getting too close to a newborn cub. If there were a Ghostbusters 3, the plot would be based off Latta’s scream. I’m pretty sure Katy Perry’s Roar was about this. The photo by Dave Reginek is epic; I can’t help but laugh.

Take a look at the sequence of photos. Stunning.

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“FNJSZDJSFSBF!!!”

Things didn’t look good for the Washington Capitals heading into the last 20 minutes of Friday’s game. Down 3-1, Washington’s lone goal had come from a Brooks Laich breakaway to open the scoring in the first period. But under 12 minutes later, however, the Caps tied it. First, Alex Ovechkin put the team within one, registering the 386th goal of his NHL career, assisted by his new/old linemates Marcus Johansson and Nick Backstrom.

Then — and most importantly — it was Michael Latta, the grinder-cum-Jay Beagle replacement. In his 10th NHL game, Mike backhanded home a fortunate rebound after a bomb from the point off the stick of John Carlson. First career goal for Latta. Tie game for Washington and an eventual win. The fourth liner promptly freaked the hell out.

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Latta poses with his milestone puck. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

The Washington Capitals have had a wealth of fourth line enforcers over the last decade: Stephen Peat, Donald Brashear, Matt Bradley, and even Matt Hendricks. But don’t lump center Michael Latta, the other guy in the Filip Forsberg/Martin Erat trade, into that category.

Over the first month of the season, Latta has been playing some of the most inspired hockey of his career. And it’s because he’s doing a little bit of everything well.

Latta is irritating to play against. I’d even call him a pest. He constantly runs his mouth on the ice (like Tom Wilson) and is a physical, hard-hitting player. He sometimes plays on the edge, delivering cheap shots behind the play, but rarely is a penalty called on him. Usually he draws retaliatory penalties from the guy he’s terrorizing. And if Latta’s challenged to fight, he can back it up.

None of that is too uncommon, but Latta also has some offensive talent. He had 38 points in 76 games between AHL Milwaukee and Hershey last year. This season, he has been Hershey’s second leading scorer before getting called up to the Capitals. He is blossoming as a player, translating the finishing ability he’s been developing in Hershey into his first NHL point: a beautiful assist on John Carlson’s goal.

When the Martin Erat trade happened last year at the trade deadline, many people (including me) criticized George McPhee for trading away the team’s second best prospect for an aging forward and a nobody. Latta is belying that descriptor, and he may yet have a long career in the NHL– just like Forsberg.

Take a look at Latta’s week and you’ll see why I’m excited.

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Photo credit: Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s Kyle Mace

Washington Capitals defense prospect Dmitry Orlov is getting another chance with the big league team. After missing his last opportunity to be called-up due to pink eye, Orlov put on a show upon returning to the Bears line-up, scoring six points in three games — including a career-high four points against St. John’s on October 19th. He leads the Bears in points. Dima’s even shooting more, putting three shots on net in his latest game against Norfolk.

Orlov has not played with the Capitals since his 60-game stint in 2010-11, which ended in Dale Hunter’s dog house after a few too many rookie mistakes.

The Capitals also have recalled pest Michael Latta, who has also been dominant since getting sent down to Hershey, tallying four points in six games. He is the team’s second leading scorer. Latta also has shown off his physical side too, dropping the mitts once and breaking a pane of glass on a bodycheck.

According to Mike Vogel, General manager George McPhee must make a corresponding roster move/s to accommodate his new toys. What do you think it/they’ll be?

UPDATE IMMEDIATELY AFTER WE PUBLISHED:

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GIFs by Ian Oland

The Washington Capitals have tried to improve their physical play in recent years, adding more power forward prospects into their system. On Sunday, two of those prospects playing for the Caps’ AHL affiliate in Hershey — Michael Latta and Garrett Mitchell — combined for a big hit on Norfolk Admirals’ forward and Anaheim Ducks prospect Max Friberg. The hit was so powerful that it made the glass unhinge and fly into the Giant Center crowd.

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

The fourth line of the Washington Capitals is an interesting thing. It features a $4.5 million veteran playmaker on the left (Martin Erat), a 22-year-old up-and-down call-up at center (Michael Latta), and a 19-year-old wrecking ball on the right (Tom Wilson). We’ll focus on Latta for now. In his return to the lineup, the new guy drew two penalties and delivered some nice hits. That’s about all you can ask from a fourth liner, though the trio’s good game was muted by Carolina’s winning third period goal.

“Drawing two penalties is excellent,” head coach Adam Oates told reporters. “You want that from that line. You want them to create opportunities and get momentum: that’s what a forth line does.”

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Tyson Strachan didn’t make the team; will Tom Wilson? (Photo credit: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

With the deadline to submit opening-day rosters approaching at 5:00 PM Tuesday, the Washington Capitals moved towards finalizing their 23-player roster with a flurry of moves on Sunday.

The Caps assigned defensemen Michal Cajkovsky, Dmitry Orlov, and Tyson Strachan (who cleared waivers at noon) and forward Dane Byers to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. They have also placed forward Joel Rechlicz on waivers. Today was the final day players could be put on waivers before rosters must be set, meaning the Caps won’t be able to demote any more players who have those rights.

That leaves Washington with 21 players on the roster (13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders) and three prospects trying to crack the lineup: Connor Carrick, Tom Wilson, and Michael Latta.

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Martin Erat’s Goal Was Actually Michael Latta’s

Michael Latta celebrates a goal. (Photo credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals brought their B-team players to Boston on Monday, but the Boston Bruins brought in their B-team scorekeepers. According to them, the Bruins led shots 38-14. Okay, maybe. But also according to them, the Caps’ third-period goal was scored by Martin Erat and assisted by Nate Schmidt and Mikhail Grabovski.

No. It was Michael Latta‘s. Really. Let’s take a look.

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At first, we didn’t have video of Joel Rechlicz’s decisive shootout goal to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on Monday night, so we had to use our imaginations. Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, the Capitals have graciously provided us evidence that this thing actually happened.

Rechlicz, the Caps’ fourth and final shooter, delivers the puck to crease before yanking it aside and backhanding it in– quite casually– to finalize the fight-filled fiasco of a game against the Flyers. Michael Latta and Garrett Mitchell fought earlier in the game, and we’ve got video below. We’ve also got another angle on Wrecker’s goal from RMNB reader Salvatore P., who was in Philly and was kind enough to share his view on our Facebook page.

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Tom Wilson and Madison Bowey during Caps Development Camp in July. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

[Editor's Note: Fedor has reported on Washington Capitals prospects for RMNB for the last three years. This year we're proud to introduce his prospect rankings. The rankings will be updated three times during the season-- with the goal of updating you on how prospects are or not progressing. The first edition of the rankings come on the second day of Rookie Camp, as Caps prospects jockey for position within the organization.]

The Washington Capitals have re-stocked their prospect pipeline over the past two NHL drafts, giving fans a wealth of new players to get excited about in addition to a few solid free-agent prospects signings.

The 2012 Draft is turning out be a sterling spot on George McPhee’s resume. After picking Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson in the first round, GMGM made a few strong picks in the latter rounds with Thomas DiPauli, Connor Carrick, Riley Barber, and Christian Djoos– all of whom have been invited to their junior national team camps and left good impressions.

Depth on defense is an area of strength for this crop of talent, with more than a few prospects ready to compete for roster spots as soon as they open.

Below, check out inaugural edition of the RMNB prospect rankings.

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