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The Washington Capitals grew this evening.

Prior to their 4-2 victory over Montreal at Verizon Center, the big news was that Alexander Ovechkin had been named the 14th team captain in Washington Capitals history. A move that may very well awaken the sleeping giant that is the Capitals. For all the success this team has had this season, the killer instinct has been missing and a squad’s identity needs to be more than the red the fans sport for every home game.

The Capitals have had some great captains in their not so storied history, and they made the right choice in going with Ovechkin now. Wearing the “C” makes him accountable for everything this team does. He wants and needs this responsibility. A team should look up to its best player at all times, and that player needs to mature into the leader he should, can and will be. It’s in Ovi’s blood and he will wear it well. This is a move that had to happen, and like many decisions the Caps have made in the recent years – they were on the money again.

After the game in Washington, the team continued to get better in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

John Carlson, fired the OT game winner for Team USA as they beat Canada (in Canada) for the World Junior Championship gold medal, 6-5.

Carlson is a stud defenseman, and former first round pick of the Caps in 2008, who had a cup of coffee with the big club earlier this season, but has spent the majority of his time dominating the blue line for the Hershey Bears.

As I sat watching this game on NHL Network, witnessing Canada yet again overcoming a late 2 goal deficit to force overtime against the US in this tournament, the skeletons of Caps playoff series past were having a party in the nearest closet.

And it was then, as my stomach started turning, that Carlson scored his 2nd goal of the evening. Not only did it send the kids on the ice into hysterics and a frenzied celebration, but it also reminded me things are going to keep getting even better in Washington. This was for the world championship and a Caps player stepped up and delivered. He didn’t fumble the puck, turn it over or whiff on a shot. John Carlson buried it!

We already know what Ovechkin has to offer in terms of talent. Now we get to watch him grow into a leader and captain. And Carlson tonight, just hours later, made an equally loud statement for the entire world of hockey to see. We have a captain that can guide and a closer that can finish – and when they are on the same ice together (along with some other great, young talent), the talk of a Cup in Washington is legitimate.

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