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  • Clark: “It Feels Like a Rock Concert Out There.”


    Washington Capitals fans weren’t just Rocking the Red, they were rocking the Verizon Center. During a TV timeout with 5:56 left to play in the third period, the Caps gameday staff played “Unleash the Fury,” a video that got the already roucous crowd whipped up into a frenzy.

    At that point, the decibal level in the Verizon Center was deafening. In the arena, you could feel that something was going to happen for the Caps. When Sergei Federov, certainly no stranger to the playoff hero role, scored the game winning goal (and first of the series), the decibal level soared even higher, and remained there until well after the final horn blew.

    Feds believed the energy from the crowd helped will the team to victory: “It was a great atmosphere all around. I’m sure any player who plays in an atmosphere like that would enjoy it and work hard and play hard… It really was an amazing experience.”

    Bruce Boudreau agreed.

    “The last five minutes after we scored,they never sat down, they never stopped cheering. If you look at the energy we had just in checking. The people brought that out. They wouldn’t let us not continue skating,”  Boudreau said, adding, ” it was really a thing to watch.”

    Of course, going into the third period, it was an experience few thought would come to pass. For the first two periods, the Capitals were out-played and out-hustled. If not for the continued dominating play by the barely 21-year-old Simeon Varlamov, this game could easily have been 3-0  after five and a half minutes. 

    In the first period, the normally gifted Washington offense had only managed two shots on the Rangers Henrik Lunqvuist. Luckily, one of them went in after deflecting off two Rangers defenders.

    The second period was more of the same. It almost felt like the Caps were on penalty kill the entire period. Washington managed nine more shots on goal, but Lunqvuist looked to be back in form for this pivotal game 7.  The most telling stat of the second period was time of possession. While this isn’t an officially kept statistic, Mike Green mentioned in the locker room after the game that he felt like the Caps only had the puck for 2 of the 20 minutes in the period.

    After the second period ended, there was a weird vibe in the air. Some thought that this series was set to end like last year’s opening round defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Still others thought that the Caps were lucky to be tied at 1, and that the third period was the Caps period, so anything could and would happen. Most though, believed the Capitals would prevail.

    Whatever the vibe in the building, the vibe in the locker room was much like the last. In his post-game presser, Coach Bruce Boudreau, when asked what was said between the dreadful second period and the fateful third, quipped:  “One of the messages was ’20 more minutes.’ How hard is that to work as hard as you can for one of the best feelings you’re ever going to have.”

    Besides the motivation, the Coaching staff went to work, as well, trying to solve the dominating play the Rangers brought to the rink.

    “We were used to them being a more passive team and they were very aggressive, in your face,” the Caps head coach stated. “We had to change what we were doing and I’m not that sharp. I took me two periods to figure it out.”

    Whatever was said or done, it paid off. The Caps came out in the third playing like themselves. The passing was crisp, the effort was phenomenal and the results were there. Everyone in the building began to feel like a Russian was going to send the Rangers packing. Of course, everyone assumed that Russian would be Ovechkin or Semin.

    Enter Sergei Federov. As Feds skated down the right side, pulling up to look for the trailer on the play for a pass, he noticed several things. First, Wayne Redden was playing way off, quite possibly because the ever-threatening Ovechkin was on the left side of the net. Second, there was no trailer on the play. Third, the top-shelf glove side of Lunqvuist, perhaps the outstanding goalies only weakness, was beakoning him. He let the shot go, kept a longer follow-through to get the shot up, and watched as the puck soared into the net for the eventual game winner with just under five minutes to go in the third.

    Fellow teammate and countryman Alex Ovechkin was the first on the scene leaping onto the 39-year-old’s back, squeezing him hard and slamming him into the boards.  Since Federov was the Red Wing that ended the Caps Stanley Cup hopes oh so many moons ago, perhaps this game seven winner will reverse the fortunes of this young, exciting team in their current pursuit.  

    Regardless of kharma and the existential side of the meaning of this goal, Federov has brought something the Capitals haven’t experienced since that 1998 run to the Cup finals and never since the best owner in Washington sports bought this team: a playoff series win.

    While many thought Ovie would play the role of hero, Boudreau was not as surprised. “Experience sometimes pays off. He knew what he had to do and… when to do it,” the Capitals coach said. “That’s what makes him one of the greatest players ever.”

    Washington Capitals fans everywhere sure think so.

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    Brash Suspended For 6 Games


    According to NHL.com, Washington Capitals Enforcer Donald Brashear will be suspended for 6 games following the club’s game 6 victory over the New York Rangers.

    Brashear lost one game for his pre-game contact with Rangers tough guy Colton Orr, and the other five stem from his viscious hit on Blair Betts, which resulted in a broken orbital bone and subsequent and indefinite loss of the Rangers best penalty killer.

    This from the league’s disciplinarian, Colin Campbell:

    “Brashear delivered a shoulder hit to an unsuspecting player. It is also my opinion that the hit was delivered late and targeted the head of his opponent, causing significant injury.”

    I personally disagree. It appeared to me that the injury came from Betts’ head hitting the ice, not anything Brashear did to him. It was an open ice hit that was clean. An argument could be made that it was interference as Betts was off the puck, but the refs on-ice didn’t even think it warranted a two minute minor.

    This seems like over-reaction due to the pre-game incident, the visciousness of the hit, and the subsequent injury sustained by the player in question.

    I hope Betts recovers well, and I wish that he would have remained on the ice for the remainder of the series, as I always perfer to see my team face another team at their best, and the loss of Betts is a tough pill to swallow for the Blueshirts. That being said, I don’t think the NHL made the right call in this instance.

    As reported previously, Chris Clark is the likely beneficiary of the newly available ice time, with Michael Nylander holding an outside chance at getting the nod.

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    ESPN Erroneously Reports Brash, Green Suspended


    I’ve received a lot of inquiries over the course of the day regarding reports on ESPN this morning that Washington Capitals Forward Donald Brashear and Defensman Mike Green were suspended for Game 7 tomorrow night.

    This report was patently false, although there is a decent chance that Brash could be suspended for contact with Colton Orr during the pre-game skate and the viscious hit (although clean, IMHO) he put on Blair Betts during Game 6, a hit that resulted in a broken orbital bone for the Blueshirts top penalty killer.

    From the NHL.com’s Rangers-Capitals blog:

    ESPN erroneously reported that Mike Green and Brashear were suspended this morning. The Brashear news is a possibility, but not official. The Green report was shocking and completely untrue. I’m told that a fan posing as a Washington Post reporter called ESPN and told them Green and Brashear were suspended. ESPN put it on its bottom line ticker and reported it on SportsCenter this morning. It was completely untrue and they retracted it immediately. Green was laughing about it this afternoon.

    If Brash can’t go, Captain Chris Clark would likely get the nod, with Michael Nylander an outside possibility.

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    Kevin Barnes Highlights Day 2 Haul


    As a Maryland fan, I couldn’t have been happier with the Washington Redskins third round selection on Sunday. Kevin Barnes is a hard-hitting cornerback with decent hands and above average coverage skills.

    If you aren’t a Maryland fan, you may or may not have heard of this kid, so for reference, feel free to ask Cal’s Jahvid Best.

    For those of those unfamiliar with this hit, here’s a youtube video that will show you what I mean: (warning: if you have a weak stomach, you may want to look away for the last 10 seconds or so)

    That was the hit of the season. Man.

    Our friends at redlasso also posted a clip from Fox 5 here in DC about Barnes.

    The rest of the second day of the draft was fairly quiet for the ‘Skins. They drafted:

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    A Quick Note To Simeon Varlamov


    Dear Varly,

    Feel free to remove the Hershey Bears logo from half of your goalie mask.

    For a 20-year-old rookie to have a .5 goals against average after his first two Stanly Cup play-off starts is phenomenal. I can’t imagine any circumstance under which you should ever leave the big league team again.

    Your size, athleticism and power in front of the net — and the roucous New York crowd — really made itself known last night at MSG, and to play the way you in did in that spot and in that environment is a testament to what you bring to the table as a top-flight netminder in the NHL.

    The crazy thing is that you will get better as you gain more experience. Your perceived over-aggressive style of play that you make up for now with speed and strength will likely get more controlled as you make your way through your career, but this season, with a spotlight on this post-season, has shown that you are ready to begin that journey.

    I am a big Brent Johnson fan. I like that he came here as a starter and assumed the role of back-up behind Olie even though his numbers were comparable, and fit right in. I will always be grateful for the way he played when called upon, and the leadership he provided in the locker room, but I fear Varly’s coming out party may just mark the end of your time in the Nation’s Capital, unless you sign with Ottawa.

    Sure Simeon, your production over the next few games might drop off and the Caps may lose this series, but I think you have shown you are ready for a shot, and if I ran the team, this would mark the beginning of the time when the Washington Capitals are your team.

    Good luck on Wednesday, keep up the good work. Oh, and if you accidentily knock Sean Avery on his tail a few times, we won’t be mad.  I’ll give you a quick English lesson. Sean Avery = иДиот.

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    Ovie On E:60, 4/21


    The Washington Capitals’ ultra-megastar Alexander Ovechking will make an appearance on ESPN’s E:60, ESPN’s verson of 60 minutes. Ovie, who will be the first hockey player to make the show, spent multiple hours over the course of two weeks shooting for the piece. Rachel Nichols will do the interview.

    If that name sounds familiar to Caps’ fans, its because Rachel was the Caps Beat Writer at the Post before going to work in Bristol.

    Here’s a sneak peak:


    E:60 Alex Ovechkin Preview from ESPN Communications on Vimeo.

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    Join Hogettes, Rocky McIntosh At Kaps For Kids Walkathon


    Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Greater DC Area
    I just received an email telling me about the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington DC’s 12th Annual Airbus KAPS FOR KIDS WALK-A-THON, scheduled to take place on April 18th.  

    I wanted to post it here for a number of reasons. From a THN perspective, this is a cool way to meet a Redskins player, hang with the Hogettes, and do a great thing while you are at it.

    Much more than that, though, I wanted to post this to help this great cause. Last April, my son was hospitalized for a kidney infection. This infection persisted for days at the local hospital, would not give a positive culture to identify the cause of the infection,  and would not respond to antibiotics. The local hospital ran out of options, so they sent us to Children’s Hospital in DC, where we spent five days. The Ronald McDonald House saved us.

    For anyone in that situation, the last thing you want to worry about is where you are going to stay. The family liason at Children’s called the Ronald McDonald House for us. We drove over and registered and that was it. It was a nice, safe place to stay. It was a community house filled with people all going through the same thing we were going through. Best of all, it was $10 a night. We gave more because we could, but if you can’t, you don’t have to.

    This is a great charity, and I ask you all to remember them when you have something to give.

    Here’s the email I received:

    Ronald McDonald House Charities
    of Greater Washington DC’s
    12th Annual Airbus
    KAPS FOR KIDS WALK-A-THON
    on April 18th. . . it’s the Place to Be !

    Want to help families with seriously ill children? Want to have fun? Want to do the hula with the Hogettes, walk with Redskin Linebacker Rocky McIntosh, and make a difference in a child’s life?

    Come to Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Annual Kaps for Kids Walk-A-Thon from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 18th at Tysons Corner Center. This event was started by kids for kids and has grown into an exciting community event that gives everyone the opportunity to help families going through a traumatic time in their lives.

    Bring your friends, co-workers, and entire family to:
    Bid on unique “collector’s” items,
    Enjoy children’s activities,
    Participate in the scavenger hunt,
    Win prizes,
    Save while shopping — discounts for registered walkers,
    Be ready for surprises!

    Cost: $25 to walk and get this year’s Kap.

    For more information, call 703.698.7080,
    visit “Special Events” on our web site at www.rmhc.greaterdc.org,
    or e-mail ashleyrmhc@vacoxmail.com

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    Happy Birthday, Sean


    Sean Taylor would have been 26 today. Running a Washington Redskins web site, there’s not a day that goes by that one doesn’t think about what a tragedy Sean’s murder was, and from so many different angles.

    First and foremost, it robbed a family of its beloved son, a woman of her beloved fiance, current and former teammates of a friend and the most heart-wrenching of all, a little girl of her Daddy. As bad as remembering that couple of days are for the people that knew Sean Taylor the Redskins’ best player, it was much more than that for those people that were close to him.

    From a Washington Redskins perspective, those four guys that broke into his house robbed us of years of excitement and success. This team was on the right track, and many thought that the tandem of Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry would one day be looked back upon as one ot the greatest Safety combinations ever.

    From an NFL standpoint, the league was robbed of one of its most dominant players. Sean was often credited as being one of the hardest hitters in the league. Receivers though twice about going across the middle when they knew 21 was coming to get them. Play like Sean put out on the field was good for the game, not just Redskins fans.

    Alas, his true greatness on the field will never be fully realized thanks to the selfish actions of a few misguided individuals, but the way his untimely death brought out the best in teammates, fans, friends and family will forever cement the greatness Sean acheived off it.

    Rest in Peace Sean. We miss you.

    Editor’s note: For anyone wanting to remember, our Sean Taylor Memorial page is always available.

    Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Scott Hurrey

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    Capital Investments Paying Off


    There a plenty of great things happening for the Washington Capitals right now. Take last night for instance. The Great Eight Alex Ovechkin scored number 50, making him only the third NHL player in history to score more at least 50 goals in three of his first four NHL seasons. The other two you may have heard of: Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy. If you are a forward in the NHL, you’d be hard pressed to find two better guys to be included on a list with. With a little less historical significance, that 50 is tops in the league.

    Tops in the league in goals by a defensemen is Mike Green, who scored numbers 26 and 27 last night in the Capitals 5-2 victory over Tamba Bay (the 9th straight victory by the Capitals over the Bolts, by the way). This victory pushed the Caps back into the second overall position in the East.

    While these are huge stories for the Capitals, the biggest story is a little bit more big picture and not quite so evident unless you’re looking for it, and that is the phenomenal job General Manager George McPhee has done building this team. The Caps are Rocking the Red this season, and as a Caps fan, I couldn’t be happier, but the real story is that this team is built to be a perennial contender; this team is built to withstand injuries and attrition.

    This season, this fact has really come to the forefront. Last night, Quintin Laing became the 15th Hershey Bear to be recalled to the Big Club to fill in for an injured starter, and like the other 15, he stepped in and stepped up. Boyd Gordon is out 2-3 weeks with a broken finger, and, like we have seen time and time again, McPhee had a player waiting in the wings that played the same type of game, possesses the same skill set, and the Caps kept on rolling.

    Last week, it was more of the same. Sergei Federov falls ill, and Keith Aucoin stepped in and the Caps didn’t miss a beat. Brent Johnson goes down, Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth are there to pick up the pieces. This team is ripe with talent at all levels, and will be contenders for a long time to come. Its been awhile since Capitals fans could be so excited about the state of the franchise and the possibilities on the horizon. Thanks to George McPhee and Ted Leonsis, that time is now and for the foreseeable future.

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    Caps Lose Some Battles, But Win the War


    Tuesday Night’s tilt in Nashville felt more like Tuesday Night at the Fights. The old adage my Grandfather used to use when we’d leave the Capital Center after a Caps-Flyers contest was fitting: “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” Aside from the fights though, this game was a tough fought, tight match until Sergei Federov scored the 15th overtime game winner of his illustrious career – tied with Patrick Elias, Jaromir Jagr and Mats Sundin for the all-time lead in that category – giving the embattled Capitals a much needed win. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak, the first of Bruce Boudreau’s young NHL career. Read the rest of this entry »

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