Sean Avery on his bike in Manhattan.

Sean Avery is one of the biggest assholes in NHL history, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a heart off the ice. As Hurricane Sandy rolled through New York City earlier this week, Avery jumped on his bicycle with filmmaker Casey Neistat to explore the devastation of downtown Manhattan. The team spent four hours in the storm, capturing film of the flooding and even helping a man trapped in his car. Shame we didn’t see this side of Avery before he retired this summer, because this version of the guy– dutiful and selfless– is damn likable.

To all of our readers who were affected by the storm: our hearts go out to you. We encourage everyone to donate some spare change to the Red Cross to help out the victims and expedite recovery.

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RMNB Week in Review; Alzner Fights, Ovechkin Raps

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This week, the Caps went 3-1-0 against the Lightning, Hurricanes, Islanders, and Habs, and if you asked someone who they thought was the only team to beat us, they would probably be surprised by the answer. Despite being outshot 77-136, the Caps still managed to outscore opponents 9-7 and take 6 of 8 points. Especially if you blindly ignore that Tuesday ever happened, it was a pretty good week.

Elsewhere in the NHL, a compelling case was made for wearing helmets in warmups, Mrs. Pronger made us sad about Chris Pronger again, Brian Elliott was re-signed in St. Louis, Chara and Alfredsson were named captains of the All-Star Game, Rangers owner James Dolan apparently has no idea the Stanley Cup is not awarded in January, and Ryan Kesler and Alain Vigneault had a lovers’ quarrel.

In case you were wondering the most important question–how does everything in the world apply to the Washington Capitals?–here’s a helpful guide to what’s terrible this week.

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Edit by Ian Oland

Photo edit: Ian Oland

Doug Johnson is one of the Puck Buddys. You already follow them on Twitter, right?

The Pre Game:  We’re thankful for Puck Buddy Bunny and Dave E filling in for us on the pregamer for the Winnipeg Jets game a few days back. So, too, were RMNB readers, if the comments are to be believed (and really, has the Internet ever lied?) “I retract any critical statements I’ve made of Doug Johnson in the past,” commented one ‘CDizz.’ To which we say: ha ha! We’re betting you will soon be retracting that retraction, Mr. Dizz. We now return you to your regular, disappointing pregames.

It must be said, however that these last few games have been anything but disappointing for Caps fans. Sure, Wednesday’s result was closer than we like (in part due to a genuinely crummy officiating call against Mike Knuble’s third-period goal that made us throw things at the television) and we’re still only talking a ‘streak’ of two games. We always considered, and still do, any talk of streaks in either direction premature. A streak implies consistent success or failure of the team to execute; this past week or so proves that Coach Boudreau’s squad is not consistent, playing like jellyfish one game and superheros the next. Still, Sasha, Nicky, and Chimera were a gravy-boat of goodness against the Jets, as was the team overall, and we have reason to believe that may continue. Or hope. Reason to hope, maybe. To believe. Moving on…

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Horse Named After Alex Ovechkin wins Maryland Millions

Sylvia Heft poses with jockey Sheldon Russell and her husband Arnold Heft in the winner’s circle. (Photo credit: Karl Merton Ferron)

Craig Brownstein of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Next to the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, the biggest day on the Free State’s racing calendar is a championship series for horses who claim a pedigree connected to Maryland stallion.

Alex Ovechkin horse

Eighttofasttocatch, the horse named after the Russian Machine, is shown here before the race. (Photo credit: Kim Hairston)

In its 26th renewal Saturday, the feature race, the Maryland Million Classic, was won by a runner who claims Russian ancestry. Eighttofasttocatch, a four-year-old chestnut gelding, was named after Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin. “Catcher” is a well-regarded race horse campaigned by Arnold Heft (an NBA ref back in the day), former co-owner of the Bullets who purchased the team along with Abe Pollin in 1964.

According to the official chart of the race, he dragged his feet a little bit in the early going, only to thunder down the stretch to win by nearly two lengths. He “gathered momentum leaving the half mile marker, moved to collar the leader approaching the stretch, kicked clear in upper stretch, responded to solid right hand pressure (a.k.a. the whip) leaving the eighth pole, drifted out slightly near the sixteenth pole and held sway.” That sounds an awful lot like the last half of the Caps 2010-2011 regular season and playoff run, all except for the holding sway part, of course.

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Actor Michael Douglas takes in the game with his daughter Carys (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Sigh. (Photo credit: Kathy Willens)

This could be the pivotal game in the series. Up 2-0 Washington had the chance to all but put the Rangers away. But all it took to derail those plans, however, was one bad bounce off Karl Alzner’s shoulder.

The first period was scoreless and fairly even with Caps holding a 5-4 advantage in scoring chances. Despite not having a lead after 20 minutes of play the frame had to be considered a positive for Washington after killing off New York’s one and a half minute five-on-three power play late.

The Rangers opened the scoring at 5:30 in the second period when Erik Christensen threaded the needle, firing a sharp-angle wrister from the corner over Michal Neuvirth’s shoulder on the man-advantage. The Capitals remained down by one until Bruce Boudreau juggled the lines, putting Alex Ovechkin, Jason Arnott and Mike Knuble together. It would pay dividends just minutes later when Arnott fired a shot from the corner before Ovechkin potted it home to tie the game.

Eight minutes into the third, Vinny Prospal gave New York a 2-1 advantage, putting the rebound from Eric Marc Staal’s blast from the point into the back of the net. But when in comes to scoring gritty goals in front of the net, no one can outdo Knuuuuuuuble, as he whacked home the loose puck after Nicklas Backstrom’s one-time rocket on the power play. You might want to stop reading now.

With just 1:39 remaining in the game Brandon Dubinsky fired shot on Neuvirth, hitting Alzner. Before Neuvirth could react, six ounces of vulcanized rubber were in the back of the net. The Czech netminder hung his head in dejection and Ovechkin lay face down on the ice. Rangers shock Caps, 3-2.

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