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Photo: Scott Audette

Washington Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt is kindness on skates. So, needless to say, it was a little weird to see him viciously throwing hands with a fellow NHL player. Schmidt’s second period fight with J.T. Brown was his first in the NHL and the third of his professional career.

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No Smiles: Nate Schmidt’s First NHL Fight (Video)

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It was probably the longest Nate has ever gone without smiling. In the second period of Saturday’s Bolts-Caps game, Nate Schmidt dropped his gloves with J.T. Brown. It was, as the olds say, a slobberknocker.

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On Monday morning, Nate Schmidt sat down with a sigh in his stall in the locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. After having an off day on Sunday, Washington had just concluded a hard, training camp-style practice. Schmidt, though, claimed he had other reasons for being zapped.

“I usually get my energy from being outside and it’s been raining,” he told Katie Brown of NHL.com.

Schmidt is a fun guy and a great hockey player. He’s also American, which means unlike most Capitals players he celebrates our annual feast. Last Thursday, he visited some extended family in Virginia. There, Schmidt had a “double dinner” at two and seven, taking “an absolutely comatose nap” in between.

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Photo: Rob Carr

When Brooks Orpik went down with an injury on November 10, Nate Schmidt was handed a large role by Barry Trotz and the Caps coaching staff. One area where Schmidt has been playing a lot more in Orpik’s absence is on the penalty kill. While Schmidt’s sample of minutes killing penalties is still quite small (about 17 minutes), early returns show that Schmidt should be given more minutes on the penalty kill and remain there once Orpik returns.

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Because Hockey Night In Canada loves us, they recorded the Capitals pre-game routine in the hallway just outside the locker room. It is ridiculous and therefore I must show you.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

On October 12, 2013, Nate Schmidt made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche. A little more than two years later, Schmidt has played 83 NHL games. His journey to the NHL has been unsteady with his coaches trying to figure out whether he’s an AHL prospect, a healthy scratch candidate, or typical third pairing defensemen. But Schmidt is none of those. In fact, he may be one of the better defensemen in the NHL. And with a lower body injury sidelining top pairing defenseman Brooks Orpik, Schmidt finally has a chance to prove it.

“I don’t think we’re seeing anything different,” head coach Barry Trotz told me of Schmidt’s play. “Nate, we felt, we had the most trust in at this point that we moved him up, gave him the opportunity. The things that he does well is skate. He’s skating and getting up ice, getting back on the breakouts, hard on the forecheck, and he defends well because of his mobility and stick. He’s a very effective player for us.”

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Nate Schmidt’s Skating and Passing Abilities Lead To Success

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Awesome Photo: Chris Gordon

The love for Nate Schmidt ’round these parts is well-documented. Possession monster, always smiling blah blah blah. Enough already, RMNB, right? Never.

Instead of talking about his possession prowess or his facial expression, today we’ll look at game clips to illustrate what makes Schmidt such an effective defender: his skating and passing. These qualities make Schmidt a solid player. They are why his possession numbers are glowing.

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The best moment of Tuesday’s generally bad Caps-Rangers game was Alex Ovechkin’s goal by way of Nate Schmidt’s pass. It was Ovechkin’s 6th goal of the season, Schmidt’s first point, and occasion to celebrate with an intense hug.

Speaking with the Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, Schmidt called the hug “magical,” and I think he means that in the Harry Potter sense, wherein hundreds of people die horrible deaths.

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How to beat Lundqvist, right there

Just scant moments after getting speared in the li’l Ovis by Marc Staal, Alex Ovechkin got revenge the best way possible: SCOAR. And to my own personal delight, the primary assist on the Ovechkin’s goal belonged to smile-expert Nate Schmidt.

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Capitals in Awe of Bus Elevator at Barclays Center

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

The Washington Capitals played in the final game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 27. The Caps lost that contest to the New York Islanders, but their Game 7 victory in Washington put an end to hockey at the Coliseum. It was a glorious moment. Six months later, the Islanders have left the brutalist circular abode behind, moving to the opulent Barclays Center in Brooklyn. After closing out the Coliseum, the Capitals got the chance to play one of the first games in the new place, beating the Isles 3-1 Monday night.

The differences between the two buildings are striking. While the old concrete blob featured notable amenities such as rat poop and a TV angle that seemed to be coming from St. Louis, the new barn has a bus elevator, which is a freaking elevator for buses.

“I’ve never been on a bus elevator,” Jay Beagle told RMNB. “At first we were kind of like, what’s going on here? And then we realized it was an elevator for a bus, so that was kind of cool.”

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