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Before every game, the Washington Capitals usually play soccer. That’s what you get when half your team is European.

The players usually form a circle and kick a soccer ball around in the air. In addition to waking up their muscles and tuning hand-eye coordination, the kickaround is a common team-building activity.

Except tonight, either because the players wanted to change things up due to their seven-game losing streak or because they forgot to pack the right equipment– the players used a giant yoga ball instead of soccer ball. CSN opened their telecast with a clip. It was silly.

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Whoops. (Photo credit: Marc DesRosiers)

On Monday morning we published a story about how awesome Mikhail Grabovski is, including the likelihood of him re-signing with the Washington Capitals.

Maybe we should reconsider if we actually want that as it seems Grabo forgot how to play the sport of hockey during the Ottawa Senators game.

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Sorry, ladies. Shirts stayed on this time. (Photo credit: slo-vo.ru’s Naumkov Yaroslav)

It’s summer, and Washington Capitals super-prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has nothing to do. Along with some Traktor teammates, Kuznetsov recently participated in a charity soccer game against a team of municipal bureaucrats from the Chelyabinsk suburb of Kopeysk. Of course the local media was there to report on every shot, pass, and save by the hometown hockey heroes.

Without hesitation, Kuznetsov volunteered for goalkeeping duty – only to suffer the ignominy of allowing a goal in the game’s first minute. Kuznetsov was nutmegged (i.e. like a five-hole, but more embarrassing). Undaunted, Kuzya carried on with the game. Not limited to a defensive role, Kuznetsov was active in organizing his team’s offense as well, volunteering to take his team’s penalty kick. So did teammate Stanislav Chistov. Paper-scissors-rock was chosen to resolve the stalemate, and Kuzya was forced to yield. The game ended in a 7-7 tie and settled by the universally hated penalty kicks, won by Kuzya and his boys. As if anybody cares.

Meanwhile, RMNB readers can look forward to next summer and the inevitable barrage of pictures featuring Ovi, Dima, Stan, and (finally!) Evgeny kicking a soccer ball somewhere in Arlington. Maybe Orly won’t get stuck in goal next time!

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Alex Ovechkin has been scoring a lot of goals lately — 17 in his last 15 games — making him the NHL’s league leader. At the Capitals’ season-ticket holder party at Six Flags on Sunday, he proved that his touch transcends hockey. Ovi for Hart whatever trophies soccer players get!

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Alex Ovechkin Plays Pre-Game Soccer with Dynamo Teammates

“I must break head you.”

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin didn’t score in Dynamo Moscow’s 4-3 shootout win over Salavat Yulaev on Saturday,  but he did have eight shots on goal in 22:09 on ice. Twice he shot for Dynamo in the skills competition and twice he came up empty. But that’s okay. The coolest part of today’s game was what actually happened before it, as the Russian language television channel TNV captured Ovi and his Dynamo teammates performing a pre-game ritual with which we Capitals fans should be pretty darn familiar.

Ovechkin, in his constricting (see below) bright, red Capitals shorts, kicked around the soccer ball outside of the locker rooms in Kazan with his Dynamo teammates, who were all in their dark blue team-issued sweats.

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Alex Ovechkin Plays Shirtless Soccer Again

Photos expertly taken by Perry Keating. (Copyright Perry Keating 2012)

Soon after representing the NHLPA in Toronto, Alex Ovechkin was back at home in Virginia playing soccer with his shirt off. Along with girlfriend (and Olympic bronze medalist!) Maria Kirilenko and Capitals teammates Stan Galiev and Dmitry Orlov, Ovi kicked the ball around on Wednesday night, letting us all know he’s fit and active during this hopefully not overlong offseason.

This is just the latest in the continuing saga of A.O.’s love affair with unamerican football. Recall if you will last year’s world champs, when Team Russia ditched morning workouts to kick the ball around sans shirts. And also that time Ovechkin wore that thing at that place that made us giggle.

Ovechkin’s fitness comes as a huge relief to the Caps community, who last summer suffered terribly under the extinction-level crisis we now know as Fat-Gate. Ovechkin appears lithe and healthy here, which is exactly what any rational person would expect of an elite professional athlete.

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A Timeline of Alex Ovechkin’s Summer

A photo essay.

The Capitals booting from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in early May once again got the summer off to a premature start for the boys in red and their fearless leader. After all, peak season hadn’t even begun on the Vineyard and the lakes remained chilly in the White Mountains. But we RMNB chose not to focus on these grave hardships. No, instead we’re going to fire up the Google Machine and take a look back at Ovi’s summer, which spanned a mere 121 days. Alexander embarked on many adventures including a little shirtless soccer (and what summer is complete without that), a scandal involving his midsection that had “gate” on the end for some ridiculous reason, and commercials for Canadian candy bars, which are like regular candy bars except Canadian.

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Ovi to soccer ball: “I must stop you.” (All photos taken by Pavel Lysenkov of Sovietsky Sport)

Ahead of its quarter-final matchup Thursday with Canada, Team Russia assistant coach Igor Zakharkin ordered his players to abandon the team’s scheduled morning practice and instead play soccer at Rapid Stadium in Bratislava. Much like former Capitals head coach Ron Wilson, who would arrange team-building bowling outings when the Caps were struggling, Zakharkin is looking to take pressure off of his team.

Russia, who has lost two straight games and is 3-3 overall in the tournament, has not gelled at any point during their time in Slovakia and has played in five straight one-goal games. The dominant team that had won 27 straight World Championship games last year has not appeared. If they lose against Canada, Russia will be eliminated.

Zakharkin spoke with Sovietsky Sport’s Dmitri Ponomarenko and Vitaly Slavin about his decision to avoid the rink today and also discussed the shirtless soccer goalie above, Alex Ovechkin. Fedor Fedin has your translation.

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