oskar-osala

Photo: Championat.com

Former Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears forward Oskar Osala has won the Gagarin Cup. His Metallurg Magnitogorsk won game seven 7-4 over Lev Praha.

In the NHL, Osala played in all of three games (two with Washington, one with Carolina). For the most of his North American career, Osala played in the AHL with the Hershey Bears (where he won the Calder Cup in 2009), the Albany River Rats, and the Charlotte Checkers.

Osala, who was traded by the Caps as part of the package for Joe Corvo (sigh) in 2010, has spent the past three seasons in the KHL. Metallurg traded for him last December after Osala played for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk for more than two years.

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Caps Beat Canes 4-3 (OT)! Two for Mike Green!

He didn't score, but he always makes for a good photo! (Greg Fiume/NHLI via Getty Images)

He didn't score, but he always makes for a good photo! (Greg Fiume/NHLI via Getty Images)

For the second time in consecutive nights, the Caps allowed a 2-0 game go to overtime. Tonight’s battle with the Hurricanes found the Caps continuing to struggle with the penalty kill, but a superlative effort from Mike Green and an overtime goal from Tomas Fleischmann earned the red team the win.

The Caps clearly have not yet returned to their pre-Olympic break heights. The top line is whiffing on the crease-cluttered opportunities they used to exploit. The penalty kill unit gave up only one goal on four chances tonight, but they’re still not operating at full capacity. The usual suspects (*Cough*Semin*Cough*) are still committing penalties and surrendering pucks with alarming frequency. Fixing these problems will be crucial not only in the post-season, but in the next few weeks to secure the President’s Trophy.

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[Editor's note:  Russian Machine Never Breaks is proud to announce the addition of Neil Greenberg to the fold.  You might remember Neil from his excellent statistical analysis over at 5ive Hole, which he will continue to maintain.  Please join us in welcoming Neil.  Play nice.]

The trade deadline came and went, and while the Caps made some changes, a lot stayed the same. Most importantly: Hershey was virtually untouched. And it is probably because of this that the Caps didn’t make the “big move” most of the fans thought they would.

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Jason Bacashihua in Net

This past weekend was awesome. Why? Because it was chock full of Hockey at every hour of the day. Sure there was “Super Sunday” with the Russians destroying the Czechs, USA humbling the Green Snubbers from the North, and the Swedes shutting out the Fins in Olympic action. But there also was a double dip of AHL Hockey with the Hershey Bears playing both on Saturday and Sunday. Well since we here at RMNB can’t be everywhere – though Fedor certainly tried as he watched illegal Russian Video Streams of the Bears Games during breaks in the Olympics – we asked our Hershey Correspondent Kyle M to summarize the events of this weekend via pictures, words & yes, his own video. Video which includes reaction from players and Coach Mark French after Hershey set the AHL Record for Consecutive Home Victories. Awesome. If you hate reading like me, here’s all you need to know: HERSHEY RULZ!

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Semyon Varlamov Rehabs with the Hershey Bears

Hershey's Mathieu Perreault celebrates his Hat Trick Goal (Photo by: Sean Simmers, The Patriot-News) (Photo Above: RMNB Correspondent Kyle M)

Hershey's Mathieu Perreault celebrates his Hat Trick Goal (Photo by: Sean Simmers, The Patriot-News) (Photo Above: RMNB Correspondent Kyle M)

First, it was his groin. Then after a rehab start on January 3rd with the Hershey Bears – a start in which Oskar Osala crashed into him while he was in net – it was his knee. And now after another long month on the shelf, Washington Capitals number one goaltender Semyon Varlamov is finally healthy again. Varly returned between the pipes today as the Hershey Bears took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Giant Center.

Varlamov made 26 saves in a thrilling 5-4 Bears victory, but gave up three goals in the first period – two of which were softies and likely would have been stopped if he were at the top of his game. After the first period however, Varlamov settled in, much like the rest of his teammates. How bad was the first period though? The Bears got outshot 17-4.

Anyways, thanks to a hat track by Mathieu Perreault and a game winning goal by everyone’s-favorite-minor-league-defender Bryan Helmer, Hershey went on to win it’s 17th straight game at home, 5-4. At this point, the Bears have won 10 straight and 22 of 23 overall. That’s crazy.

When asked about Varlamov’s performance after today’s game, Bears Head Coach Mark French had this to say: “I thought [Varly] got better as the game wore on. I don’t know what the game plan is. As far as I know, his health throughout the game was fine.” (Quote via Tim Leone of the The Patriot-News)

So yes Caps fans, Semyon Varlamov is one step closer to returning to the Big Club and also another step closer to joining Team Russia as it’s Third Goalie on the Olympic Roster (THANKS A LOT LISA HILLARY). Varly had no setbacks in today’s gamel! Yes, everything seems to be right in the world once again. Special thanks to Kyle M. for the photos and the report.

Below the jump check out some more photos of Varlamov wearing his new mask!
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