Photo credit: Patrick Smith
In April 2009, a young Russian goalie by the name of Simeon Varlamov started game two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals after number one netminder Jose Theodore’s poor game one. The 21-year-old didn’t speak passible English, sported a unibrow, and soon became the talk of the NHL.
Varlamov allowed one goal in his first game and posted a shutout the next. In six games versus the New York Rangers, Varlamov allowed a mere seven goals. Though the Caps would eventually lose to the Penguins in game seven of the semifinals, it appeared that Washington had found their goalie of the future. But two years later, Varlamov (with the spelling of his name now changed to Semyon) was unceremoniously sent to the Colorado Avalanche for a pair of draft picks.
Varly had become Washington’s main goalie after Theodore departure, but after battling groin injuries as an explosive, athletic goaltender, he struggled to get back in the crease when healthy. Bruce Boudreau, the Caps coach at the time, seemed to favor fellow 2006 draft pick Michal Neuvirth. With his contract up at the end of the 2011-12 season, Varly wanted to be assured of starting spot. The Caps weren’t interested in that. On July 1, Varlamov was sent to Colorado. He signed a three-year contract with the team the next day.
Now, three years later, Varly was back in Washington to face Neuvirth for the first time. At least in the first round, he came out on top.
“I was so nervous,” Varlamov said in much improved English, as his teammates cheered him on in the background. “Lots of memories to play here. That was my first game since I left Washington, that’s why I think I’m too nervous in warmup. My legs were shaking. All of the first period, my legs shaking.”
Photo credit: Amanda H.
[Editor’s note: When Washington Capitals fan Amanda H. went to the Caps Season Ticket Holder party at Six Flags last year, she had Martin Erat sign a photo of Filip Forsberg. This year, she one-upped herself. We’ll let her explain.]
I had debated for a few days what I should get signed at the season ticket holder party. I have a ton of Caps stuff, but nothing really stood out to me, until about twenty minutes before I had to leave. Long forgotten due to the poor toast it makes (No, seriously it’s very bad toast, I have yet to find a setting that toasts most of the bread without burning the other half), my Capitals toaster sat on a shelf, not having been used in months.
Images of walking around an amusement park carrying a toaster danced in my head. It was too amusing to turn down. I have a suspicion those events might be slightly tedious so I felt like this might spice things up. At the very least it’d give me something to say to the players instead of just awkwardly standing in silence. I cleaned it up a little and tested to make sure the sharpie would actually stick. It did!
When my friend Alyssa and I arrived in the parking lot, I had a moment of doubt. Am I really going to go get a toaster signed? Why didn’t I clean it thoroughly beforehand? I figured that either way, this would be a great story and probably worth the effort. I went through security and the bag check. The guy checking my bag thought my toaster was pretty cool.
The Capitals announced Saturday morning that they have re-signed goalie Michal Neuvirth to a two-year contract worth about $2.5 a year. Neuvirth has stopped 91% of all shots against this season, but has largely been shelved (just 13 games played) due to injury, illness, and Braden Holtby’s 91.9% save percentage.
Neuvirth will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract.
Check out the Hendyface! (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
I was expecting some kind of letdown after the Washington Capitals ensured themselves a playoff spot on Tuesday, but dude. Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it didn’t carry the same gravitas now that the Caps are locked in third place. Erik Karlsson’s unlikely return to service was heartening for pure hockey fans, but it’s way too late in the season for us to muster up that kind of neighborliness. Besides, it’s totally possible this is the team the Caps will have to face in the playoffs, so we should probably get the enmity brewing now.
Karlsson got one, then Ovi got one. Then overtime, where ex-Cap Sergei Gonchar won it all because Mike Ribeiro is a liability.
Sens beat Caps 2-1. Ottawa makes the playoffs.
Photo credit: Francois Lacasse
The Washington Capitals have had it too good for too long. After filling their greedy maws at the trough of the Southeast for so long, they traipsed up to French Canadia to lay a beating upon the beast of the Northeast, the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs, sporting one of the best power plays and possession numbers in the league, were a worthy foe, but the Caps had Ovi. And that’s all you really need these days. Just a big plate of Ovi and wash it down with some Backstrom. Put some greasy Fehr in there if you want, but Ovi is the main dish.
Caps beat Habs 3-2.
Photo credit: Greg Fiume
The Washington Capitals’ most valuable player is probably Braden Holtby. After a rough start, Holtby has improved to a solid 91.5% save percentage and recorded four shutouts. That success has been a big part of the Caps’ turnaround in the standings, but it has also given short shrift to Michal Neuvirth, whose future with the Capitals has become murky.
Neuvirth has started just 9 games this season. Coach Adam Oates has consistently turned to Holtby’s hot hand (despite how nebulous that myth is) whenever he had the option. Neuvirth has missed his recent opportunities to start due to illness and then general wooziness following a shot to his mask at practice last week. With Neuvirth playing his worst in a contract year at the same time Holtby is locking down the #1 goalie slot, no wonder there’s chatter about Neuvirth getting courted by the KHL.
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.”
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.
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.
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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