Erik Karlsson and Mike Green Hug During Scrum

You might want to turn the sound on. (Vine via @SeanGentille)

The imagery above has been making the rounds on Reddit and Twitter this morning. It’s so glorious that I figured I’d share it with you.

On Tuesday night, as Mikhail Grabovski got the claws out with Zach Smith and an angry Cory Conacher tried to literally separate Eric Fehr’s head from his torso, Erik Karlsson and a late-arriving Mike Green embraced each other at center ice like long-lost bros. Instead of getting involved in the fracas, the two offensive defenseman caught up and enjoyed their front row seats to some hockey carnage. Wouldn’t you?

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Not Again: Rangers Slam Caps 4-1

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Photo: Scott Levy

Coming into Friday night, the Caps had been playing well. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they nearly beat two of the league’s best teams. But then they played Columbus. It was a disaster, and a moment of reckoning.

After the game, the fan base — and the team — seemed to hit the panic button. People on Twitter smashed their keyboards, pointing out Washington’s glaring defensive holes and overreliance on the power play. None of that, however, is anything new. It’s not likely to change before playoff time either.

On Saturday, Adam Oates came up with wacky line combinations in hopes of righting Washington’s four game skid. It didn’t work.

The game got off to an awful start when Rick Nash picked off a silly defensive zone pass from Dmitry Orlov to put New York up just 70 seconds in. Fifteen minutes later, Nash was at it again. A lack of spatial awareness led to two hooking penalties on the Caps. On the ensuing 5-on-3, the former Blue Jacket floated a weak wrister through Phillip Grubauer’s legs. About a minute and a half later, Derek Stepan put the nail in Washington’s coffin with a shot though traffic. Braden Holtby came in, but the game was already over.

Ovechkin tried to give the Caps life with a 5-on-3 bullet early in the second, but Ryan Callahan put Washington back in their place just 86 seconds later. This was never a game anyway. Rangers slam Caps 4-1.

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Johansson (red) laughs during the preseason Capitals Alumni Game. (Photo: Chris Gordon)

The Washington Capitals’ defense allows the second most shots per game in the NHL. They’ve put perhaps their best defensive prospect, Dmitry Orlov, through recall-scratch-repeat hell. Now that Orlov is finally playing, he’s paired with a guy who has a similar skill set, Mike Green.

Then there’s the frequent shuffling of the Caps blue line deck. Due to injuries, on-ice struggles, waiver pickups, and call-ups from the minors, Washington has used twelve different defenseman this season. Just about every blue liner in the organization has gotten a shot as part of the 2013-14 Caps D corps.

As we head towards the stretch run, the Caps seemed to have settled on a lineup for now: John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Mike Green, Dmitry OrlovJohn Erskine, and Connor Carrick. Though Washington’s defense has been its biggest flaw, its recent improvement may also their best chance at making — and succeeding — in the playoffs.

A few weeks ago, I spoke with assistant coach Calle Johansson, the man who runs the Caps’ blue line, and asked him about some of his decisions, including some of the positives from this season.

The full transcript is below.

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Mike Green Scores The Luckiest Goal of All-Time (GIF)

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With the Caps trailing the Wild 3-2 in the second period, the visitors needed a break. They had given up two goals to Ryan Suter on the power play earlier and it appeared their energy was waning. And then, something weird happened that we’ll *try* to describe here.

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Photo credit: Kevin Hoffman

The Washington Capitals scored on two consecutive shots in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. First, Marcus Johansson cleaned up a rebound to convert a power play. Then, just thirteen seconds later, Mike Green pulled a stellar move to dodge Matt Cooke before ripping a wrister past Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom.

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

In overtime, unless you’re a really bad hockey team or extremely good at shootous, you play to win the game. A minute and fifteen seconds into overtime, the Washington Capitals tried to do exactly that, making an aggressive play in the Carolina Hurricanes’ offensive zone to try and secure that one extra standings point.

They paid the price for it however, as Jeff Skinner scored his hat-trick game-winning goal on a jailbreak odd-man rush into the Capitals defensive zone.

Every Capital on the ice minus Philipp Grubuaer shares blame on the goal. Let’s take a look at the bad reads and bad decisions. (This is as close as we’ll ever get to a Justin Bourne Systems Analyst post.)

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Caps Auction Off Ugly Christmas Sweaters (Photos)

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The sweaters on sale. (All photos by Chris Gordon)

A couple weeks ago, the Washington Capitals released a magisterial Christmas video in which their players wore ridiculous outfits while pretending to provide musical accompaniment to Jingle Bells. Tonight, the team auctioned off the signed ugly sweaters worn Nicklas Backstrom, John Erskine, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Alex Ovechkin, Aaron Volpatti, Joel Ward, and Tom Wilson in the video, with the profits benefiting Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. Troy Brouwer owns the onesie he wore in the video, and according to Caps Community Relations, he refused to part with it. Instead, a signed stocking was offered instead. I imagine he’ll be wearing the onesie on Christmas day.

In the third period, it was announced by Caps PR that bidding raised $5,225 for charity. Way to go, guys.

Here are some photos of the #fashion on sale:

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Love ugly Christmas sweaters and cheesy music videos? This video will make you happy. The Washington Capitals have recorded a music video for Jingle Bells to wish you guys happy holidays. It features Caps captain Alex Ovechkin on the bells, Brooks Laich on the drums, Joel Ward on an inflatable pink saxophone, Troy Brouwer on bass, Aaron Volpatti on the guitar, Nicklas Backstrom on the tambourine, John Erskine on a pre-k piano, Tom Wilson on the ukulele, and– of course– Mike Green rocking the cowbell.

You have to see this.

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No matter how bad your day has been, Mike Green‘s was worse. The two-time Norris nominee was whistled for three infractions in the first period, leading to two Tampa Bay Lightning goals. In total, Green racked up 18 penalty minutes in just 9:18 of ice time. Comcast SportsNet commentator Alan May diagnosed the penalties during the first intermission, calling them “textbook” and the result of “laziness.”

Let’s review.

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Why the Capitals Suck After Scoring a Goal

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Photo: Patrick Smith

Fifteen times this season the Capitals have surrendered a goal within 2:30 of scoring. Nearly one-fifth of the total goals scored against the Caps have come in that 150-second window after a goal. That’s a startling number. Way back in October, Adam Vingan of WaPo Express spoke to the team about the pattern. “We have to find a way to stay on the gas pedal,” Steve Oleksy told Vingan when that number was only 8 goals-against.

The Capitals have not stayed on that metaphorical gas pedal. Instead, they’ve allowed another 7 goals within the two and a half minutes after scoring. The most recent was on Saturday, during the Capitals-Predators game, when Eric Nystrom responded to Nate Schmidt‘s goal by scoring one of his own just 23 seconds later. The Capitals had a good goal cushion by that point, but weak shifts like that after Caps goals have cost the team wins.

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