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Year in Review: Best of the Rink 2011

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Since the end of the year is a time for reflection and nostalgia (and a bit of self-congratulation), we've compiled what we feel to be the "best" of the Rink over the last twelve months. Interviews, analysis, commentary...we wrote it, you made it a conversation. See what made the cut after the jump...

A Classic Weekend (1/3/11) - Whether you made the trek to Pittsburgh or watched it on TV or relived it through HBO's 24/7, the Winter Classic was an experience that won't soon be forgotten; almost a year later, the memories from that New Year's weekend are still quite fresh.

Dmitri Orlov: "I Really Want to Stay in Washington" (3/1/11) - Hard to believe that nine months ago, Orlov had just left the KHL for the United States and was about to make his debut with the Hershey Bears. Nine months, a stint in the AHL and seventeen NHL games later, he's a pro in every sense of the word - and we want you to stay, too, Dmitri.

Rink Roundtable: Trade Deadline 2011 (3/4/11) - Rink writers reflect on a raucous round of roster-rustling. As is always the case, hindsight is 20/20, so mocking is welcome required frowned upon.

Jason Arnott and the One That Got Away (3/28/11) - Trade deadline acquisition and veteran center Jason Arnott was much more than just a late season pickup; he also brought a bit of Caps' history full circle. JP explores Arnott's early career and the veteran - and familiar face - who taught him everything he knows.

Marcus Johansson: "I Think it is the Confidence That Has Developed Most..." (4/5/11) - The Caps' European players (most of them, at least) give plenty of interviews to North American media, but there's nothing quite like the stuff they give the folks back home, and over the years The Rink has been lucky enough to have hard-working Russian and Swedish translators busting their tails to bring those interviews from "back home" to you. This piece is a great example as Marcus Johansson talks about his rookie season in the NHL.

Coaching 101 (5/3/11) - Like so many GMs before him, JP went out and brought in some high-priced talent for the playoffs, enlisting the help of Pension Plan Puppets' Chemmy and Puck Daddy's Ryan Lambert to give his team the extra spark it needed. Of course, like many a Caps' GM before him, the move ultimately didn't work. But what's left behind are some blogging gems, like this Chick Tract meant to rally the troops, bust up the trap and make us all laugh... through the tears.

Time for a Change (5/6/11) - Two days after being swept out of the postseason by the Tampa Bay Lightning, a reflection on what Boudreau was and was not able to get out of his team in that series... and why a change was needed to see if the problem was behind the bench or on it. Almost eight months later, it's a question that still has no answer.

On Trading Mike Green (5/19/11) - Another playoff failure, another summer filled with shouts of "Trade [Player X]!!". David explores why trading one Player X in particular would do more harm than good - and considering how the team has fared without #52 in the lineup, he might just have been on to something.

Does Alex Semin Need an Elite Center to Succeed? (6/21/11) - Kareem asks the question, crunches the numbers and comes up with an answer. You decide if it's the answer you want to hear.

How Roman Hamrlik Fits in on the Caps' Blue Line (7/5/11) - His first few months as a Cap haven't been much to write home about, but Hamrlik seems to be improving under new coach Dale Hunter's system. And as David explores here, he might benefit even more from the return of Mike Green.

The Poti Predicament (7/21/11) - Rob (the Artist formerly known as Fehr & Balanced) makes his Rink debut talking about his favorite subject, Tom Poti, and breaks down the Caps' options with the eternally-injured blueliner.

Traitors, Turncoats and "Business Decisions" (8/9/11) - A look back at some of the infamous names whose loyalties have swayed from rival to rival over the years.

Alex Semin and the Curse of Elite Talent (8/31/11) - The Summer of Semin kicked into high gear when former Cap Matt Bradley called out his enigmatic ex-teammate for being a guy who simply didn't seem to care. It became the story to end all stories, but his comments - and those of fellow former Cap Dave Steckel a few days later - were hardly the first of their kind to make their way into the media.

Reflections on a Sad Summer (8/31/11) - Trying to make sense of a summer filled with tragedy.

Tomas Vokoun and Soft Goals (9/12/11) - Oddly enough, this was written prior to the start of this season. Go figure.

Behind the Hockey Diaries [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3] (9/26-28/11) - For the last few years, multimedia documentarians Gemma Hooley and Chris Nelson of MediaChameleon have been producing riveting, hour-long glimpses into the Capitals' season through the eyes of two players. And as training camp kicked into high gear, we sat down with Gemma and Chris for a closer look at the minds behind this amazing series.

Protecting Mike Green the Red Wings Way (9/27/11) - Mike Green's talent and potential have often only been overshadowed by his tendency toward injury (as we've seen firsthand in the first half of this season). So what's the solution? Same as the solution to so many problems facing any hockey team, really - copy the Detroit Red Wings.

The Evolution of Bruce Boudreau’s Capitals (10/4/11) - The Washington Capitals have undergone a stunning transformation since Bruce Boudreau first stepped behind the bench four years ago, as JP demonstrates in a year-by-year breakdown (with a hauntingly prescient last line).

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' Power Play (10/26/11) - So wait...he shouldn't be on the point?

Welcome Home, Dale Hunter (11/29/11) - As one familiar face departed DC, another one returned, bringing with him history and nostalgia. Of course the past is past, and the present involves a team whose problems have problems and whose issues have issues. Godspeed, Dale.

Now that the back-patting is over... a special thanks to all of you for continuing to read and comment and make this community what it is all year long.