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On a day when Ryan Miller dumped his white mask in favor of a beautifully painted music inspired mask, Washington Capitals goaltender Jaroslav Halak has done the same.

Last week, you’ll remember, we asked Halak if he was getting his bucket painted.

“I’m getting my mask soon,” Halak said to me, too embarrassed to hold up his vanilla bucket. “It’s by a painter [from] Montreal.”

Well today, Diel Airbrush released photos of Halak’s new mask and it’s majestic.

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grubauer-mask

For almost two months, Adam Oates rode the hot hand in net with Philipp Grubauer. Grubi was impressive in his first extended look with the big-league team, putting up a 6-5-5 record, a .925 save percentage, and a 2.38 GAA in 17 games. In fact, Grubauer dominated so much that George McPhee felt comfortable enough to fill Michal Neuvirth’s trade request, thereby slating Grubi to become the Caps’ back-up goalie for the 2014-15 season.

With more opportunity soon on the horizon, Grubauer has commissioned crazy ol’ Swede David Gunnarsson to paint him a new Capitals themed mask. There’s nothing amazing here, but the design is still pretty baller. It’s like July 4th with Capitals logos.

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holtby-new-mask

Swedish artist David Gunnarsson released photos of the newest mask he finished painting this morning. Lo and behold, it’s for Washington Capitals starting goaltender Braden Holtby. Gunnarsson has entitled it “Number 70 of the Capitals.” The mask is stylized to go with the Caps’ third jerseys, the same vintage sweaters that they wore during the Winter Classic in 2011.

Gunnarsson, in his very odd/excitable dialect, walked us through the story behind Holtby’s new bucket on his Facebook page.

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Photos via In Goal Magazine

Goaltender David Leggio spent all of last season with Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans. Leggio was dominant, winning 38 games and sporting a .924 save percentage. That performance merited MVP consideration at season’s end.

With Dany Sabourin having left during the offseason in favor of playing in Austria, the Hershey Bears were in desperate need of a veteran goaltender that could share the load and help mentor Capitals prospect Philipp Grubauer. Bears’ general manager Doug Yingst found his man in Leggio and signed the goaltender to a two-way contract for 2013-14.

“Obviously, the Bears are one of the best franchises in the AHL,” Leggio said to The Patriot-News’ Tim Leone during the summer. “They’ve won championships and the arena’s always packed. I’m very excited to come to a place where I feel we’ll have a chance to win a championship. They’ve won championships in the past and have a commitment to winning.”

On Tuesday, the Bears opened training camp and Leggio arrived in style. He just might have the coolest mask in the AHL.

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First Look at Braden Holtby’s New Mask (Photos)

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Via the Washington Capitals Instagram, here’s Braden Holtby‘s new mask.

Designed by Swedish artist-to-the-stars, Dave Gunnarsson, Holtby’s mask features a sign on its side reading, “Please do not feed the animal.”

Not sure if that refers to the eagle with the crazy eyes or the actual guy wearing the mask.

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Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth

Because I’m an optimist, let’s say there’s an NHL season this year. As soon as the new collective bargaining agreement is signed, sealed, and delivered, the Washington Capitals goaltenders will debut shiny new masks. Michal Neuvirth, who has been playing with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga, has been wearing a new mask featuring former Capitals great/current goaltending coach, Olie Kolzig, on its side.

I spoke with Braden Holtby on Saturday about his thoughts on Neuvirth’s new bucket. After I showed him the mask on my iPad, Holtby chuckled and flashed a big smile in approval. “Olie’s done a ton for the organization,” Holtby said, “so that’s pretty cool.”

Not to be outdone, Holtby has been wearing his own new mask playing with Bears. Unlike last season, where his helmet featured a split Bears/Capitals theme (and oh yeah don’t forget that awesome bear on a rollercoaster), Holtby’s new headgear is ALL CAPS (get it?).

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Photo credit: DaveArt.com

On Tuesday, Michal Neuvirth completed a deal to play for his former team HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga during the NHL lockout. Well, now he has some new goalie gear to work in too.

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Braden Holtby New Mask

A few weeks ago, word leaked out on Twitter that Braden Holtby was sporting a new goalie mask during practice up in Hershey. We sent photographer Kyle Mace — of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey on Earth — to the Bears’ next home game and had him capture every angle imaginable of Braden’s new roller-coaster themed mask.

Well now, David Gunnarsson — the Swedish artist who custom-painted Holtby’s new headgear — explains the backstory to the project.

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All photos by Kyle Mace. Click to enlarge.

We heard from reader Matthew W. that Braden Holtby got a new mask this week. Until today, all we had were blurry, long-distance cell phone pictures, but now we’ve got pics from Kyle Mace (of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey On Earth) taken during warm-ups of the Bears/Senators game.

The front of the mask features a bear on a roller coaster (either a reference to Hersheypark or his turbulent offseason) and the Capitals Weagle logo. The back features the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta (Holtby’s home); the Japanese symbol meaning “Constant Improvement,” the words “Carpe Diem”, and the Hershey Bears logo.

Below the jump, check out Kyle’s hi-res images of Braden’s sweet new headgear. And thanks to Holtby for unknowingly being such a great model.

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Semyon Varlamov’s New Mask as Described by the Artist

The new Semyon Varlamov mask painted by David Gunnarsson.

The new Semyon Varlamov mask painted and airbrushed by David Gunnarsson.

Today, pro airbrush artist and custom mask painter David Gunnarsson released photos of the new mask he painted for Semyon Varlamov. He also shared some of the inspiration and backstory behind the mask’s creation.

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