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Tuesday, EA Sports released their annual playoff simulation. And boy do I have some news: the video game engine predicted the Caps would win the Stanley Cup.

Really.

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Photo: Saam

The Caps have won the Presidents’ Trophy and they’ve got the merch to prove it. None of this should be a surprise, yet why do I feel so uneasy?

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Look I’m not superstitious, but if I put my pants on right-to-left instead of left-to-right, I take them off, light them on fire, throw them in a trash can, and jump back in bed. Try again tomorrow, right? I hate it when people call me superstitious. No, I’m not superstitious.

[Realizes I forgot to dab 3 drops of shampoo in my hand instead of the customary 2, begins panicking.]

Okay, fine, I’m superstitious. But this is why I needed to share this with you. Over the weekend, my parents visited my house and handed me a light-blue tin can, which had an embossed gingerbread man design on the top. I had no idea what was inside, but my mother had this crazed, excited face like she had just won the lotto. I opened the tin can only to find the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life. At that moment I understood.

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Photo: Tom Szczerbowski

In disturbing jinx news, the Washington Capitals are now Bovada’s odds on favorite (13/2) to win the Stanley Cup. This comes on the heels of several NHL.com analysts picking the Caps to win it all during the preseason.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars (7/1), New York Rangers (15/2), Chicago Blackhawks (9/1), and Montreal Canadians (12/1) round out Bovada’s top five.

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30 Days Out: Healthy Mike, Healthy Brooks, Healthy Nicky

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The first puck of the 2013-14 season will drop in exactly 30 days, so we’re going to spend the whole month reminding ourselves of all the good things coming our way on October 1st. I thought I’d start with this little gem: Everybody’s healthy. For once.

Over the last two seasons, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, and Nick Backstrom have combined to play just 63.5% of games. Concussions and #brittlegroin have cost those players a combined 142 man-games, probably a big factor in the Caps’ struggles since 2011. After successful rehab for all three, we’ve got reason to think those troubles are behind us now.

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Photo via Gizmodo

The NHL agreed last week to allow its players participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Up to eleven Washington Capitals could represent their countries in the two-week tournament, but the ultimate goal of Olympic gold just got a bit less awesome.

Chelyabinsk Region Culture Minister Alexei Betekhtin announced on Wednesday that gold medal winners on February 15th will receive a little something extra in their award: part of the meteor that crashed over the city a year before. According to R-Sport, only seven events will be awarding medals that day: the men’s 1,500 meter speedskating, the women’s 1,000m and men’s 1,500 short track, the women’s cross-country skiing relay, the men’s K-125 ski jump, the women’s super giant slalom, and the men’s skeleton events.

So no space rocks for hockey players.

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Alex Reut's painting for Winter Classic and Lokomotiv tragedy

He’s baaaaaaaack!

Alex Reut, the man behind the not-at-all-cursed Capitals/Stanley Cup painting, is here to do some good. Reut is auctioning off the work above, and he will donate the proceeds to Love for Lokomotiv.

This is a gigantic link to the auction page.

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Behold! Alexsandr's other "We Are The Champions" painting

Did you think this would be a slow news week? Maybe an injury update here or a scouting report there, but overall an uneventful period before the semifinals. Well, you were wrong. From the Internet’s very own disreputable flea market emerges what might become the cultural moment of the hockey season.

(Are we building this up too much?)

Artist Aleksandr Reut has crafted Washington Capitals – We are the Champions!, an exquisite 40″ x 32″ oil painting on canvas. This inspired (yet absurdly premature) work of celebratory art and its partner piece are available for bid or purchase on eBay right now. Starting bid is only $5,000, so crack open those piggy banks.

A 50-something Ukranian ex-pat living in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Reut fills the daytime hours as an architect, but the muses compel him to high art. A decade-old profile from Harrisonburg’s Daily News-Record (reprinted here by brama.com) extols Reut’s passion for mixed media as a sculptor, but he tells me that it’s hockey that really inspires him.

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