Winter is Coming in 8 Days

Eric Fehr

Editor’s note: To get you properly revved up for the season, each member of the RMNB crew will take a longing look back at some of our favorite goals from days gone by. You can call it nostalgia or cheap summer content, but it’s really a reminder: WINTER IS COMING.

I wasn’t always a huge hockey fan. My family were Hartford Whalers season-ticket holders, and they took me to an event down at the old Civic Center when I was 4. I would have gone skating but the goal siren frightened me away. I refused to skate and spent the rest of the night sitting on the bench with my hands on my ears. When I finally saw a game at age 12, I was an instant convert.

So: January 1st, 2011. The Winter Classic. Maybe the biggest game of the regular season and my first away from Home Sweet Verizon Center and in Pittsburgh, home of our nemeses. I wanted the win badly.

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Wey (white) chips the puck down the ice. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Wey waits his turn during drills. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

After being drafted in the fourth-round (115th overall) in 2009, Patrick Wey has been to the last three Development Camps hosted by the Capitals, holding his own every time. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native — more on that later — was a standout in American juniors with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL before making the jump to Boston College. The powerhouse Eagles, who have one the deepest defensive corps in NCAA hockey, won a national championship his freshman year. Unfortunately, Wey missed the 2010 Frozen Four after contracting mononucleosis.

This past year, the 20 year-old continued his progression, tallying his first — and so far only — collegiate goal against the University of New Hampshire on March 5. Wey was also was one of five Capitals prospects to participate in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York, capturing a Bronze medal with Team USA along with fellow BC d-man Brian Dumoulin. He is also a teammate of the Penguins’ 2009 second-round pick Philip Samuelsson, son of former Swedish NHL star Ulf Samuelsson and one of the last cuts from the 2011 US WJC team.

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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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Update: Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportsnet reports that Matt Cooke has been suspended by the NHL for the rest of regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

During Sunday’s Penguins vs. Rangers game, Matt Cooke was up to his old tricks. The 32 year-old former Capital delivered an elbow to the head of a defenseless Ryan McDonagh. The Ranger player went down like a sack of potatoes but fortunately was uninjured. Cooke received a five minute major for elbowing on the play and a game misconduct. As Daniel Tolensky points out, Cooke has played in 881 NHL games yet has only been suspended a total of ten matches in his career. The League obviously deserves some of the blame for allowing Cooke’s dirty play to continue without significant consequences for his actions.

A month ago, Pens owner Mario Lemieux criticized the NHL for being too soft on the Islanders’ players that participated in the mega-brawl between New York and Pittsburgh. Just a week ago, Sidney Crosby said the NHL needed to fight deliberate head-shots. But now their own player, Matt Cooke, is once again under Colin Campbell’s review. Below, we’ve chronicled Cookie’s dirty deeds throughout the years.

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Michal Neuvirth and Karl Alzner celebrate after the Capitals 1-0 shutout of the Penguins

Karl Alzner congratulates Michal Neuvirth on his third shutout of the year and second straight blanking of the Penguins. (Photo credit: Gregory Shamus)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates his second period goal, his fifth powerplay goal of the year. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates his second period goal, his fifth power play marker of the year. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

After besting the Sabres on Sunday, the Capitals took the 178 mile journey down to Pittsburgh to take on a depleted Penguins team. Much was up for the taking Monday night. With a win versus the Pens, the Caps could go finish their pivotal 5-game road trip above .500, move within a point of the Lightning for the Southeast lead and take the season series with Pittsburgh. But despite their injuries, the Penguins remained no slouch. Added with the motivation of playing a Washington team that defeated them on Feb. 6 and in the Winter Classic, the Capitals couldn’t take the Penguins for granted. And they didn’t.

The first period, though scoreless, was certainly energetic. Both teams weren’t afraid to mix it up and play physical as the goalies shut things down. The Caps may have been outshot 18-7 for the frame but they were not without opportunities, including an Alex Ovechkin breakaway chance where the Great Eight was stoned by Marc-Andre Flurey.

The fireworks really began in the second period when Matt Bradley delivered a huge hit on Capitals fan favorite Matt Cooke, receiving a charging penalty in the process. The Pens Jordan Staal proceeded to tackle Bradley to the ice as a scrum formed. Ryan Craig would ask Bradley to answer for the hit when the two dropped the gloves at 11:26 but Craig ended up getting the worst of Bradley’s fists. Shouldn’t Cooke be fighting his own battles? I don’t think I have to answer that one.

While on the power play at 16:38 in the frame, Marcus Johansson fed the puck to a waiting Alex Ovechkin. Ovi then unleashed an unreal, laser beam of a one-timer. BOOM! Caps: 1, Pens: 0

And that would be it. Pittsburgh put 14 shots on Washington netminder Michal Neuvirth in the third period but Neuvy remained as solid as a brick wall. Shutout. World Peace. Something funny here. Caps beat Penguins, 1-0.

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This Ain’t No Puppy Bowl, Caps beat Pens 3-0

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Matt Cooke and Alex Ovechkin in happier times. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Once again the Super Bowl Sunday rendezvous between the  Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins was a rousing success. Through three periods of hockey, the Caps laid siege to the Penguins’ net and their depleted forces.

Mathieu Perreault won a battle below the goal line to feed Brooks Laich, who was waiting eagerly in Fleury’s paint. His greasy backhander put the Caps up 1-0. On the penalty kill in the second, Marcus Johansson scored perhaps his prettiest goal yet, a no-look backhander. 2-0. Desperate in the third, the Penguins’ offense relented and allowed Mike Knuble the empty netter. Shutouts don’t feel so bad from the other side. Caps beat Pens 3-0.

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Feed The Machine

Last week we opened up our lines for reader questions. To be totally frank, they’ve been way beyond our expectations. Didn’t know you had it in you; keep ‘em coming!

Now pipe down and pay attention, cause Neil’s about to drop some science on you fools.

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Ovi tackles his teammates after Mike Knuble's second period goal.

Ovi tackles his teammates after Mike Knuble's second period goal. (Photo credit: Dave Sandford)

Photo credit: Gregory Shamus

After a year of build-up and three glorious episodes of HBO’s 24/7, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins finally met at Heinz Field in front of 68,111 loud, screaming fans to compete in the 2011 Winter Classic. Much like the 39 games before and the 42 games to follow, this game counted the exact same amount in the standings: two points.

But both you and I know it meant waaaaaay more than that. You could see it in how the Caps played, celebrated and spoke after the game. This was the biggest game they had ever played in their NHL careers. And it showed.

At 8:17pm the first puck dropped. It would then take over twenty-two compelling game minutes to see the 2011 Classic’s first goal. In the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury made a routine stick save along the ice on Alex Ovechkin. Kris Letang then took the rebound and alertly flung the puck up ice where he found a streaking Evgeny Malkin. The Capitals’ defense, caught on a bad change, allowed Malkin to go in all alone on Semyon Varlamov. Malkin went five-hole and the the Penguins took a 1-0 lead.

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The 2011 Winter Classic in Photos

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Ovi and Semin play soccer pre-game.

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