WOO NICKY WOO!

Epix, that new, weird television channel the NHL is forcing us to watch, has released a teaser trailer for its four-part Road To The Winter Classic series. The footage is like 75 percent players pumping iron, but hey, whatever, NHL. It’s something. I’m excited.

I went ahead and GIF’d literally every clip of the Caps in it. There’s something comforting and hypnotic about watching infinite weightlifting and fist-pumping.

If you sign up for Epix now, you’ll be able to watch the series. You should probably do it right now (and give the Epix people the marketing material they need to be in more homes). The series starts Tuesday, December 16th at 10 PM.

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ugly-ovechkin-christmas-sweater

For decades, the ugly Christmas sweater has been a fashion faux pas, an ugly, handstiched gift from grandma that you felt obligated to wear on the one day out of the year you actually see her. The colors are often a garish red and green, featuring designs of reindeer, snowmen, holly, and a waving Santa sewn on it. It looks terrible. You look terrible.

The NHL is attempting to out-ugly nana this year by selling their own version of the ugly Christmas sweater. They are so hideous that they are kind of beautiful. You must own one. There is a design for most NHL teams. Three players are immortalized in wool: Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, and our own Alex Ovechkin.

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caps-penalty-kill

Photo: Geoff Burke

The Caps penalty kill is currently ranked 23rd in the NHL, killing off 77.1% of all shorthanded situations. This may give you a ‘here we go again’ feeling due to how truly awful the Caps penalty kill was last season (They would have been much worse than 16th place if not for very strong goaltending.)

But rest easy, Caps fans. This Caps penalty kill is actually really good and could very well end up among the top in the league once goaltending improves. It could be even better if Barry Trotz starts deploying the penalty killers in a more optimized manner, as it seems he’s been giving the wrong penalty killers the most ice.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

This morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Barry Trotz took a hammer to the lines that have been so successful in the early part of the season. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have been split up. The team’s second line, consisting of Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky, and Troy Brouwer, has been blown to smithereens as well.

The Capitals also made a roster move this morning, recalling Tom Wilson from AHL Hershey and demoting Chris Brown. Brooks Laich, who suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury last week, did not skate with the team and will not play Wednesday. Trotz believes Laich may practice later in the week. Come on, baked goods, I thought you had magical healing powers!

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Breaking Down Jeff Schultz’s Plus-50 Season

Editor’s note: Pat Holden has written about Caps hockey over at Brooks Laichyear since 2012. We’ve asked him to pitch in here at RMNB to smarten us up a bit. Please give Pat a warm welcome. Follow him on Twitter.

This isn’t a post about plus-minus or debating its merits. I don’t like it and neither should you, but that’s not my purpose here. You can love plus-minus and still read this post without becoming enraged. Probably.

Jeff Schultz‘s plus-50 in 2009-10 was the highest rating we’ve seen since Peter Forsberg in 2003. When Caps fans or hockey fans in general make fun of plus-minus, Schultz’s name is almost always invoked. Even Ovechkin did it.

But we don’t often look too closely at Schultz’s 2009-10 season. It was uncommon and– most importantly– really, really lucky. Below is a player usage chart for the Caps defense from that season that will serve as the foundation for examining Schultz’s season.

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capitals-weagle-prototype-jersey

Photo: Icethetics

On June 22, 2007, Ted Leonsis unveiled new uniforms for the Washington Capitals. The team dumped their five-starred eagle and Capitol Dome logos and returned to their original red, white, and blue color scheme.

During that faithful day, the team also unveiled two new marks, including a secondary logo which would be nicknamed by Capitals fans as the Weagle (an eagle that had a W shape with a subtractive silhouette of the Capitol Dome on the bottom).

On Thursday night, Icethetics noticed an interesting jersey up for auction on eBay. The user manonthemoon12345 described the sweater as a “rare authentic” Washington Capitals prototype jersey. On the tag, it’s dated November 16, 2005 and there is a note that this is a second of six versions of the jersey.

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ovechkin-pants-curling

RIP (Photo: @WashCaps)

Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz might have given his players the day off Thursday, but everyone ended up on the ice anyways. The Caps held what I can only describe as an “intense team building event” at the Calgary Curling Club and I’m sad to report there was one casualty: Alex Ovechkin‘s pants. Let us have a moment of silence for #OviPants.

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holtby-lavender-goalie-mask

Photo: Washington Capitals

This Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings, the Washington Capitals will be holding Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night. Caps players will wear purple jerseys during warm-ups while both goaltenders, Braden Holtby and Justin Peters, will be wearing lavender-colored masks throughout the game. How cool is that?

The jerseys will then be autographed and auctioned on the main concourse during the game. Also notable and adorable, eleven-year-old Ryan Darby from Make-A-Wish will participate in a ceremonial puck drop. Hopefully, he throws Henrik Zetterberg out of the dot like Braden Nienaber did with Steve Ott last year.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

Editor’s note: Pat Holden has written about Caps hockey over at Brooks Laichyear since 2012. We’ve asked him to pitch in here at RMNB to smarten us up a bit. Please give Pat a warm welcome. Follow him on Twitter.

During the preseason, Barry Trotz said that he prefers to keep forwards in pairs when shuffling lines. So far, that has proven to be the case. The Caps’ four persistent pairs through the first five games have been Ovechkin-Backstrom, Burakovsky-Johansson, Ward-Chimera, and Kuznetsov-O’Brien.

There’s a lot of noise in the numbers this early in the season, but with that disclaimer, a look at Trotz’s deployment so far shows many things we’d expect and some things we wouldn’t. But the biggest story is that the Caps fourth line is struggling, and Barry Trotz clearly doesn’t trust them.

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Ask Not the Sparrow How the Eagle Soars, Hockey’s Back!

CapsGroupOpeningNight_web

If you’re like me, October can only mean two things: Halloween is coming, and HOCKEY IS BACK!!!

To celebrate the return of the Caps, I did what I do best: Illustrate! Here we have Jason Chimera as the Ice Cheetah, John Carlson as Captain America, Nicklas Backstrom as Thor, Braden Holtby as the Holtbeast, and of course, Alex Ovechkin as the namesake, the Russian Machine. Our hockey superheroes in Red are ready to soar into DC again, prepared to thwart whatever stands in their way.

(The quote comes from an anime I watched summer, Kill La Kill. I thought it was pretty fitting, since y’know…. eagles/weagles.)

Hockey is here, so you know I’ll be in the stands, unleashing a little fury to do my part for the thwarting.

LET’S DO THIS.