Alex Ovechkin celebrates with Jose Theodore after the Capitals beat Columbus 3-2.

We’ve dwindled down to the final five games of the season, but despite the doldrums, the Capitals showed up to play tonight. Even if most of the viewing audience was busied with the NCAA basketball tournament, this rare meeting of the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets was solid hockey. Columbus came out extremely hard, seemingly ignorant of the fact that the team was gutted at the trade deadline, their head coach has been fired, key players are hurt and the team is 12 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot.

The “Blazers” as Joe Beninatii constantly referred to them as, had odd man rushes all night long, but failed to convert almost every time because of solid goaltending from Jose Theodore or generally poor execution. Columbus’ wealth of penalties seemed to doom any chance for them to reach a crucial early lead. And despite the Capitals giving up a third period tally – which forced Bruce Boudreau to call a timeout and have an expletive-filled dress down of the team – the Blue Jackets could not force Overtime. Thus leading to the Capitals making history.

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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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Aaaaaaand We’re Back! Caps Beat Sabres 3-1.

Alex Ovechkin celebrates the Capitals 3-1 Victory with Jose Theodore

Everything is right in the world. Let’s put behind us the Olympic tournament, the three-game slide, and the trade chaos. For the next few paragraphs, let us just enjoy the Washington Capitals’ solid 3-1 win over Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres. It wasn’t a barnburner or anything, but after the last few weeks we can appreciate a win that is not coincident with hypertension.

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Trade Deadline Time - Is Eric Fehr Getting Traded?

Hockey fans everywhere now turn their lonely eyes to the General Managers.  Nearly every club in the NHL wants to make some kind of move, and the Washington Capitals are no exception. Who’s packing a bag? Who’s coming to DC?  Let’s take a look!

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Alexander Ovechkin: Jagr Will Relive A Bit of the Past

Alex Ovechkin happy to be reunited with his countrymen. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

Alex Ovechkin + Olympics = Happy. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

Tonight, RMNB is pleased to present our first translated interview from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Earlier today, caught up with Alexander Ovechkin after Team Russia’s Morning Skate and posed The Great Eight questions about one of Russia’s biggest rivals in the Olympics: The Czech Republic and their enigmatic superstar Jaromir Jagr. Many people have been overlooking the Czechs in the Olympics, but don’t lump the Russian Machine into that group.

The Czech Republic has been a huge thorn in Team Russia’s side over the past decade. They beat the Russians 1-0 in 1998’s Nagano Winter Games to win Olympic Gold behind the stellar play of Dominik Hasek. And then they kicked the Ruskies completely off the podium in the 2006 Olympics, beating Team Russia 3-0 to win Bronze in Torino.

Below the jump, RMNB’s Fedor Fedin translates the interview between Ovechkin and Sovsport. Find out how Ovi compares himself to Jagr in his prime, what the Czech’s chances are to win the Olympics and his opinion on fellow Caps Tomas Fleischmann and Michal Neuvirth .

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Alex Semin’s Hat Trick for Naught! Sens Beat Caps 6-5.

Varlamov does the opposite of shine in Caps 6-5 Loss

Sasha's Compete Level = Meh. Nets Hat Trick & Assist in Loss. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Sasha's Compete Level = Meh. Nets Hat Trick & Assist in Loss anyways. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals officially have a defensive crisis. Despite an offensive onslaught, the Capitals allowed (at least) one too many goals in tonight’s match-up with the Senators. With Tom Poti and Shaone Morrisonn out, Karl Alzner and Tyler Sloan did their best to fill in. They failed. The defense seemed incapable of winning battles in the corners or clearing the puck, and the offense seemed too concerned with goal-scoring to be bothered with work in their own zone. These are not new problems for the Caps, but they have worsened in the last five or six games. Led by Alexei Kovalev and Jason Spezza, Ottawa seized on the Capitals’ weakness to win the night. Sens Beat Caps 6-5.


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Sweet Revenge! Caps Beat Pens 6-3

Nicky Backstrom keeps the power play perfect

Nicky Backstrom keeps the power play perfect

“Can’t lose.” – Me, 22 hours ago.

It’s hard not to sound like an amateur here. There are expectations when committing a game to print.  We must write with a detached, sober tone befitting the excellent journalistic standards demanded by our audience.

Well, screw that noise. Tonight’s game deserves hollerin’, and hollerin’ is what we will give it. It’s not often that the Caps get a chance to redeem themselves against their biggest rival. It’s been only eight months since Washington sputtered out in that notorious game 7, and the memory is still fresh in our minds. But like Ray, Egon, and Venkman before them, the Washington Capitals have exorcised the ghost of that loss in tonight’s stunning 6-3 game.  Vindication is the word you’re looking for.

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Comeback! Caps beat Panthers 5-4 (SO)

Tonight Mike Knuble joined the ranks of officiater-haters everywhere.

If I told you that tonight’s game hinged on Brendan Morrison (no goals since 12/23) and Brooks Laich (no goals since 12/28) scoring, you probably wouldn’t have been optimistic. If I told you that of five back-to-back game pairs, the Caps lost the second game four out of five times, would you have a good outlook for tonight? Well, forget you, dude. The Washington Capitals proved their depth of talent and character in a stunning come-from-behind shootout win over the Florida Panthers.

It could have gone very differently. After last night’s– let’s just call it a hosedown– the Caps could have lost their  momentum and zombie-shambled through the rest of their trip down south. One could argue that Tuesday showed the Caps’ self-detonating: losing their composure and revealing their myriad flaws.  I think instead they showed grit and character in that loss. The Caps left Tampa last night with some scrap of dignity and, bouyed by Matt Bradley, a renewed sense of teamwork. That spirit was paramount in Sunrise.

The first period opened like we all feared it might. The Panthers led 2-0, and the Caps’ offense was absent. Michal Neuvirth’s puck-stopping came up short.  Stop me if you heard this one before.  It seemed like Florida would be able to coast to an easy win over thebestteamevertoplaythesportofhockey. But no. Not tonight. Not under the new reign of Captain Alexander Ovechkin and his merry men. The boys mounted an epic and late-brewing comeback, earning a teeth-clenching shootout finish. On the back of Tomas Fleischman, the Caps fought for this win.

If you can’t tell already, this game is the bizarro version of last night’s game. Let’s break it down.

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C! Caps Beat Habs 4-2

Alex Ovechkin - Captain for the first time against Montreal


The Caps Are Now Undefeated (1-0-0) When Peter Wears His Russian Machine Never Breaks T-Shirt

Tonight The Washington Capitals began the second half of their (championship) season. Coming off a three-game slide, it was imperative that the boys show some aggression tonight. That they did– in a barn-burning 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The Caps now have a perfect record (1-0-0) while I wear my Russian Machine Never Breaks t-shirt.

Tonight’s game marked Alexander Ovechkin‘s first game as captain. We at the Machine don’t actually understand what this means, but we can say with certitude that the embroidered “C” looks totally bad-ass on his sweater. And while the difference the new captaincy brings to the team cannot yet be quantified, we know the Caps were a Brand New Team tonight. After a glut of lifeless play in the games following former-captain Chris Clark‘s exit, the boys were back in a big way at Verizon Center this evening. And the icing on the cake? Our boy, the controversial Alexander Semin, gets the lion’s share of the credit for the win tonight.

All that and more after the jump!

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Epic Comeback! Caps trounce Oilers 4-2

This Caps fan has tonight lost his voice from shouting at the meh-definition signal from Comcast SportsNet Plus. You can’t blame me; the Washington Capitals had a lot to shout about last night. For forty minutes it seemed like the defensemen were not equal to the task and the offense were offensively inert. The Caps, leading the Southeast division, somehow trailed the Oilers, bottom of the Northwest, by two goals going into the 3rd period. Snowbound Caps fans across the east coast buttressed themselves for another pathetic loss to a Canadian team.

And then Alexander Ovechkin showed up. The world’s best hockey player and the man my girlfriend calls “Ovenchicken” performed a hero’s task in Edmonton last night, singlehandedly pulling the boys from F Street out of a two-goal deficit. After one determined stuff manuever and another sick Ovechkian angle goal off a rebound, the Caps had renewed life. Flash and Backstrom put the nail in the coffin, and all was right in the world again:  Caps beat Oilers 4-2.

  • CSN+ has a terrible signal. The first five minutes of ice time were tinged Viagra blue, and this Caps fan couldn’t discern Laing’s 53 from Green’s 52 for most of the game. Over the airwaves, Joe Beninati‘s exotic tie patterns read like some kind of vomitous fever dream.
  • Karl Alzner‘s masterful deflection into his own goal may be the punctuation at the end of his time in the NHL. His D pairing with Tyler Sloan (-1 plus/minus for the season) was particularly incompetent last night, but his kick into our own net was unforgivable. Hershey may be a better fit for his hijinx. Am I being unfair? Let me know in the comments below.
  • I can’t single out Alzner, as the whole defensive effort was pathetic last night. The Oilers’ offensive tactics were eerily similar to Boudreau’s Caps, what with the dumping and chasing and moving behind the goal line. Our defense was unable to chase down loose pucks behind the blue and clear it out, and that made those two soft goals against Neuvirth possible.
  • Jeff Schultz is on my list, too. His careless pass at center ice led to a breakaway goal for the Oilers – one night after this terrible miscue. At least when Mike Green pulled that same nonsense a few weeks ago, he had the good sense to follow it up with a make-up goal.
  • Alexander Ovechkin‘s 3rd period illustrated everything we love about the caveman.  I don’t know what Bruce Boudreau said in the locker room at the 2nd intermission, but Alex definitely heard it.  His goals owed as much to grit as they did talent, and he pulled the rest of the team up with him.  Last night demonstrated once again why Capitals hockey is the most exciting hockey in the league.
  • But Steve Staios is paste-eating crazy.  Several times the Oiler’s PK man jumped in front of Ovie’s lightning-fast slappers like he was the Edmontonian Quentin Laing or something. This guy deserves a lot of credit for neutering the Caps’ powerplay last night.
  • Was the Caps top line (“The Tiger Beat line”) -2 in the first 40 minutes of the game? Yikes.
  • Tomas Fleischmann‘s go-ahead goal was exemplary, but he followed it immediately with a lazy penalty. If that’s not a microcosm of the Caps fatal flaw, I don’t know what is.
  • If your hockey team cannot convert 1:51 of 5-on-3 into a goal, you’re not worthy of Lord Stanley’s Cup. I attribute this failure to Edmonton’s fantastic PK unit as much as our own incompetence. Either way, this is the second time this season our boys have struggled with completion anxiety across multiple games. Let’s hope we get our groove back against Buffalo.
  • Spongebob Squarepants Hilary Duff was at the game last night. For the record, Russian Machine prefers Miley Cyrus.

So I imagine by now the boys have landed in D.C. and are finding their respective homes buried under two feet of snow. If I hear about Mike Green or Alexander Semin spraining their backs while shoveling snow, I’m going to flip out. Stay mellow, watch The Jersey Shore, and drink a gingerbread latte. Three day’s rest is a fair reward for a successful trip to the tundra.