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Japers' Rink GIF Tournament: The "Not Invited" Tournament

Because even the GIFs that didn't make the cut deserve a little bit of attention...

Collage by Brendan Sheridan

The NHL season is long and tough and full of wonderful, GIF-worthy moments - yes, even the 82 games played by the Caps. And with so many moments from which to choose, it's only natural that in crafting a GIF tournament with limited spots available, a few great ones might be left out.

To remedy that, we've gathered a handful of contestants who didn't quite make the cut and brought them together for a one-day, winner-take-all competition to determine the best of... well, the rest. Check 'em out, cast your vote, and stay tuned to find out who takes home the shiniest of participation ribbons!

Your competitors, in no particular order:

a) Joel Ward and Jay Beagle put on their fancy pants:
Beagle_goal
The slick backhand of Joel Ward, the net presence of Jay Beagle, the sheer helplessness of everyone in a Flyer jersey... it's all so nice, isn't it?

You know, the GIF tournament has had its fair share of awesome plays by some of the Caps' most skilled players, but every now and then it's nice to highlight a play by someone other than the Alex Ovechkins and Nicklas Backstroms. Which isn't to say, of course, that Joel Ward and Jay Beagle don't have plenty of skills in their own right.

Just, um, different skills.

b) Backie-bomb:Backstrom_bomb
Okay, yes. Troy Brouwer pioneered the Caps' locker room videobombing, and that debut made it into the first round of the "real" tournament. But Backstrom's version is charming and delightful in its own way, a rare moment of silliness from one of the team's quieter members.

...and of course, once again the unknowing victim is one Brooks Laich. Which is always kind of hilarious.

c) Ovechkin and Green team up:Green_scores_the_gwg_in_ot___5-4_-_imgur
Earlier in this game, Mike Green notched his 100th career NHL goal - a pretty nice wraparound tucked past Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth. But this give-and-go with the captain was even nicer (and more important, as it won the game in overtime)... and perhaps brought up a little nostalgia for the days when such rushes weren't so rare.

d) Tiny fists, big punch: Fgn29mf_-_imgur
It seems that no one was immune from the charms of little Braden Nienaber, who spent a memorable weekend with the Caps and his hero, Braden Holtby. And while Steve Ott was a great sport during some ceremonial puck-drop antics, Tom Wilson went as far as to volunteer his chin for the knock-out punch... or at least do a really good job of acting the part. Off-the-charts adorable.

e) Ovi bests a future teammate:Ovechkin_gets_his_stick_swatted_away_and_still_scores
This one admittedly makes the cut in large part because of who plays the role of "helpless defender" to Alex Ovechkin's sniper ways. We might have mocked this in the past - but since he's now on our side, we'll just say this is a valiant effort to contain one who cannot be contained, and leave it at that.

Ahem.

f) Jingle bell rockin' the red:Ovi_breaks_the_bells
Nothing says "holiday cheer" like the Caps in crazy holiday get-ups pretending to play instruments over a rockin' version of Jingle Bells.

Right, Troy?
Trjdxf7

g) LATTAAAAAA!
Lattacelebration
At 11:54 of the third period on November 15, 2013, Michael Latta scored his first career NHL goal against the Red Wings, tying the game at three.

A second later, this reaction happened. It's magical, isn't it?

h) Alzner does... something: Alzner_celebrates
There were some pretty phenomenal bench celebrations this year, with chest bumps and rally helmets and all kinds of chaos erupting (particularly after a shootout victory). Karl Alzner, however, took the bench celebration to a new level, breaking out some instant classics... including whatever he's doing here.

It doesn't need a name; it defies description. It just is.

i) Magnetic Backstrom:Backstrom-celebration
The magnetic force of Nicklas Backstrom is so strong, it has the power to draw four giant hockey players into him without even trying. Hugs for everyone!

*****

Remember, this is a one-shot deal - so make sure to cast your vote, and help decide who goes home with the greatest consolation prize* EVER.

Voting for this (and for the *real* GIF Tournament... have you voted yet?) will close at 10:00 pm ET tonight.

*Note: no actual prizes will be awarded, because this is just the NIT - aka the Not Invited Tournament. The Needs Improvement Tournament. The Nobody's Interested Tournament. The National Insignificant Tournament. The No-...well, you get the idea.