Michal Neuvirth’s New “Eagles of Washington” Mask

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Photo credit: DaveArt.com

Though recently we’ve seen him in a baseball cap more often than not, Michal Neuvirth‘s got a new mask. As with all Neuvy’s lids, the latest one was done by masterful Swedish airbrush artist Dave Gunnarsson, who posted pictures on his Facebook page. This is sad news for us at RMNB as Neuvy’s current Olie Kolzig Memorial Mask is a favorite of ours. The old mask lionizes former Capitals great Olie Kolzig on one side along and Czech netminder Jiří Holeček on the other. Neuvy has yet to wear his new mask, so the old one is still around for now.

The new mask features a large image of Washington’s Weagle logo on the front, but with the head chopped off and replaced with a more realistic rendering. The right side, as always, sports an image of Strekov Castle from Neuvirth’s hometown in the Czech Republic.

“Just as usual the design is pumped with details and hidden messages,” Gunnarsson, who designs masks for many NHL goaltenders, including Braden Holtby, wrote on Facebook. “It is so exciting to create a design in old school style mixed with top modern fx.”

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Ovi’s smiles are getting progressively weirder as the night goes on. (Photo credit: @ovi8)

With Alex Ovechkin scoring his 700th point and the Capitals escaping Raleigh with a win over division-leading Carolina, the players were in a festive mood. That might explain why half the team started tweeting after the game, shooting congratulations to Ovi (#respect), describing the victory with a three-letter word, and posting… well… other weird things.

Take a look for yourself.

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Gregg Forwerck

Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck

The Washington Capitals got rocked by Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Thursday looked like more of the same until Alex Ovechkin threw the team over his husky Russian shoulders and carried them kicking and screaming into the W.

This one could have gone very different. It’s good to know your Capitals can still surprise you.

Caps beat Canes 3-2.

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Patrick McDermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

After a misstep on Long Island, the Washington Capitals hoped to regain their footing while hosting the New York Rangers on Sunday. After a quick start, the Caps lost control of the game. A snazzy goal by Steve Oleksy in the first period gave the Caps the lead, but the Rangers retaliated with four goals– two of them scored after penalties by Alex Ovechkin. Holtby was chased from the net, and the Caps never really mounted a palpable comeback.

Rangers beat Caps 4-1.

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mojo

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

A few weeks ago I published a piece explaining why I wasn’t freaking out the Capitals. My point was that bad luck had been quashing good possession numbers, a trend that I predicted would soon reverse. That did not happen.

The Caps have just two wins through eleven games, making them the worst team in the league. During media time on Friday, General Manager George McPhee primarily blamed that record on bad goaltending and undisciplined, “selfish” penalties. CSN’s Alan May agrees.

I admitted on Thursday night that I was baffled by why the Caps were losing, so I thought we could use this time to figure out what exactly isn’t working. Because I’m pretty sure it’s not the penalties.

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Please, Gnome More: Leafs beat Caps 3-2

patrick mcdermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

I wrote on our mission statement that hockey should be as fun to read about as it is to watch. So what happens when hockey– Caps hockey at least– becomes a chore? Tuesday’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals was another messy loss, and gnome amount of puns will cheer us up right now.

The Leafs scored first, JVR seizing upon a communication breakdown between Neuvirth and Poti behind the Caps net. JVR struck again after Washington’s defense temporarily lost motor function. Marcus Johansson got his first of the year late in the first after Tomas Kundratek gave him a nice feed at the back door. Korbinan Holzer got his first NHL goal with a tricky long bomb. Mike Ribeiro executed a nice zone entry and passing sequence by sinking a powerplay goal, but the Leafs emerged victorious.

Leafs beat Caps 3-2.

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Holtby gives up a goal 7-hole

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

In the far corner of the room, Braden Holtby sat at his locker and stared at the ground. As the rest of the team spoke to the media, Holtby remained there, stoic and still in full gear. He didn’t look up. Finally, fellow goaltender Michal Neuvirth came over and gave him a tap on the pads. After a few minutes, Holtby got up and walked out of the room.

The Caps had just been smacked by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Holtby gave up six goals on 26 shots. At one point in the game, it was five goals on 14 shots. After coming into the season as the team’s tentative starting netminder, he has a save percentage of just .862. His goals against average is 4.52. Nothing, it seems, is going right for the 23-year-old from Saskatchewan.

“There’s been better days,” Holtby told reporters after he reentered the locker room. “The puck seemed to go in again tonight. I feel like I’m doing some right things and obviously a couple things I’d like to change but just one of those nights.”

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salute

The Capitals are 1-4-1.  They’re in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, 7 standings points behind the Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

I’m not panicking.

Despite how desperate the standings look, the Capitals are actually playing darn good hockey right now according to their underlying numbers. Let’s take a look at those together and then have a warm glass of milk.

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Okay, NOW Hockey is Back: Caps beat Sabres 3-2

patrick mcdermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Although hockey has been back for over a week now, the lockout seemed longer to the Washington Capitals and their fans. Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres put a definitive end to that. The Caps were poised, aggressive, and — most importantly– victorious for the first time this season.

And oh yeah, Ovi scored.

John Carlson allowed a bad breakaway that became a goal for Tyler Ennis, but Joel Ward occupied the slot a few minutes later to restore the tie. John Erskine scored a sneaky goal from outside to give the Caps their first lead since the season home opener vs. Winnipeg. Then, Alex Ovechkin scored a glorious powerplay goal with a one-timer that went top shelf on Ryan Miller. Marcus Foligno got one back for Buffalo, feeding at Neuvirth’s trough to make it 3-2.

Caps beat Sabres 3-2!

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Olie Kolzig

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Olie Kolzig is remembered as the greatest goalie in Capitals history. A staple in Washington’s net for over a decade, Kolzig led the team to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance and became one of the franchise’s most beloved players. These days Kolzig has a different role. In his second year as associate goaltending coach, Kolzig spends his time mentoring the club’s young netminders in both minor leagues. The influence of a veteran has apparently rubbed off on the players– Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth recently added the German goalie’s likeness to his mask, a gesture Kolzig deeply appreciated.

On Sunday, I spoke on the phone with Olie The Goalie, who was in Hershey scouting the Bears game. As the NHL season approached, Kolzig gave me his thoughts on the Caps goalie duo, the distractions Braden Holtby faced last season, and what he sees next for Alex Ovechkin. He even told me what he thought of Tom Poti‘s return to hockey and what that could mean for the organization.

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