August 19, 2022

CAPS: Eakin, Johansson & Perreault Skate with Kids at Zoo

Washington Capitals forwards Cody Eakin, Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault skate with children at the GEICO iceless rink at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals forwards Cody Eakin, Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault meet Luke on their tour of the lions and tigers at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 12, 2011

Eakin, Johansson, Perreault Skate at the GEICO Iceless Rink at the Smithsonian National Zoo

ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals forwards Cody Eakin, Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault skated at the GEICO iceless rink at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Sunday, Dec. 11. The trio skated with 50 children from the Caps Kids Club from 7 to 7:30 p.m. and then skated with 50 children preselected by the Zoo from 7:30 to 8 p.m. This event was part of the National Zoo’s ZooLights, powered by Pepco.

Capitals mascot Slapshot was also in attendance and took photos prior to skating with the children.

None of the Capitals players had visited the National Zoo before, and they were treated to a behind-the-scenes private tour of the Great Cats exhibit before skating. Eakin, Johansson and Perreault had a chance to see all of the Zoo’s lions and tigers up close and learn more about the animals, their habits and how they are cared for by the staff.

“I was a little rattled when Luke [the adult male lion] started roaring and getting agitated,” said Perreault. “I was a little scared even though there was a fence between us. But it was definitely an amazing experience I will never forget.”

The Washington Capitals Kids Club, presented by Dasani, hosted a contest from Nov. 21-Dec. 2. Members were asked to submit a drawing of their favorite animal Rocking the Red at the National Zoo. For more information on Caps Kids Club, visit

The National Zoo randomly selected 50 children to skate with the Caps through a sweepstakes drawing during the first two weekends of ZooLights (Nov. 25-27 and Dec. 2-4). The 50 children selected are ages 5 to 14 years old.

ZooLights runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on weekends (Fridays through Sundays) Nov. 25-Dec. 11 and from 5 to 9 p.m. nightly from Dec. 16-Jan. 1 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31). Entry to ZooLights is free and admission to the GEICO rink is $5 for a 30-minute session with skate rentals available for an additional $2 fee. The iceless rink is made of the world’s best and most eco-friendly synthetic ice skating surface, composed of specially engineered polymers that permit skate blades to glide as smoothly as on real ice. This “green” high-tech plastic ice is made from a non-toxic, recyclable acrylic material.

For more information on ZooLights, visit

CAPS GAME 19 RE-CAP: Caps Get Much Needed Win; Boudreau’s 200th; Orlov Debuts

“When you’re hopefully getting out of a little funk it doesn’t go from low to high. It takes little steps, so hopefully Wednesday we’ll be better than we were today.” – Coach Bruce Broudreau after win

The Washington Capitals defeated the visiting Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in front of the 115th consecutive sellout at Verizon Center.

The Caps were on a four game losing streak and it was time to win. Fans, players, coaches, media, everyone knew it was time. Many referred to the game as a “must win.” And the Caps did win and the victory music returned! DJ Pauly D’s “Beat Dat Beat” was blaring as the media entered the locker room after the game and players booed when it was turned off. Boudreau told the players and the media that, “it’s nice to hear the music.”

The victory marked Bruce Boudreau’s 200th NHL win, the fastest coach to reach the milestone breaking Don Cherry’s record. “I would’ve traded 199 of them for that one today,” Boudreau said. “When you don’t win for any length of time, it gets tougher. It came at a good time.”

The big news before the game was that Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career since his rookie year (2003-04). Some fans were angry and some even cheered when the scratches appeared on the scoreboard. Semin was at Verizon Center, however, did not speak to media.

Boudreau explained to media why Semin was scratched. “He’s taken penalties seven games in a row. At some point you have to be accountable for your errors. I don’t like doing those things to people that are that talented, but everybody’s gotta know that everybody is accountable. It was a tough decision, but it was a decision that I thought needed to be made for the group.”

Caps fans started to feel uneasy when the Coyotes took the 1-0 lead with a shorty on a Carlson turnover.

With only 54 seconds left in the first period, Matt Hendricks and Kyle Chipchura dropped their gloves and got the quiet crowd fired up. Having received five minutes for fighting, Hendricks exited the rink for rest of first period. Before skating off, Hendy gave the Caps bench a look as if he was saying, “Okay guys, I got it started, now do something with this energy.” “I was just trying to get a little spark going,” Hendricks said.

After starting the second period with Lauri Korpikoski scoring on penalty shot and Yotes up 2-0, everything turned around for the Caps. Hendricks’ fight did spark something.

The first “rally balloon” (more on rally balloon later at end of post) was spotted and then John Carlson put the Caps on the board with a long slapshot through a lot of traffic. The second “rally balloon” was on the ice and Verizon Center crowd booed the ref when he removed the red balloon. Immediately following, Cody Eakin scored his first NHL goal at Verizon Center and his second career goal from a Schultz assist.

After being down by two, Cody Eakin said, “We didn’t get discouraged. Everyone said, keep going, keep doing what we’re doing, that’s the right way to play. Work it [the puck] behind the net, get it [the puck] in deep and make it hard on their d-men [defensemen] and forwards, so that’s what we did.”

Cody Eakin scored his first goal at home (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

“We were still positive,” Nicklas Backstrom said explaining the spark after first period. “We had a good feeling. I think our first period wasn’t that bad and we felt like we had chances. We just had to keep going and that’s what we did. Overall, I think we had a good game.”

The Caps played a strong third period and scored another two goals.  Backstrom scored with assists by Ward and Ovechkin and Brooks Laich scored a much needed power play goal (5-on-3) which turned out to be winning goal.

“Obviously, it’s not fun to lose. It’s always fun to be back on track,” said Backstrom. “Makes it much easier for you if you win hockey games and [then you] come [to] practice the next morning and smile a little bit more. ”

Several of the Capitals weighed in about the win and their play performance after the game.

“We’ve got a lot of leaders in this room.  A lot of guys say the right things. It’s a matter of getting everyone on the same page and doing the right things,” stated Matt Hendricks.

Alternate Captain Mike Knuble said, “I think we won today the way we wanted to. You can look back at their goals – one was a breakaway and one was a penalty shot – so I think we were very proud of our defensive effort. We limited their chances and it was a big difference tonight.”

Alternate Captain and number one star of the game, Nicklas Backstrom stated, “I think we worked smarter. All over the ice, we made the right decisions. They had a two – nothing lead, but in our group we felt good anyway and I think Marcus [Marcus Johansson], Eaks [Cody Eakin] and Wardo [Joel Ward] getting us going in the second period, that’s a good thing. ”

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov was recalled from Hershey on Sunday and made his NHL debut tonight. Orlov logged in 11:56 of ice time and tallied three hits.  “I was very happy with him,” Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau continued, “He didn’t try to do too much in his first game…He played it smart and took a lot in the last 24-hours, all in English and did pretty well at it.”

Translated by Russian reporter Slava Malamud, I asked Orlov about his NHL debut game. “I feel great. I especially feel happy because the team won and I think that I’ve helped the team to win. So yes, it is a great day for me.” Playing in the NHL lived up to Dmitry’s expectations,  “Because this is the league that I have been dreaming to play in and overall the feelings are very pleasant. This is the best league in the world.”

Dmitry Orlov made his NHL debut (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)


The “Rally Balloon” = Two red balloons found their way onto the ice during the second period and fans decided to give the “rally balloon” credit for the Caps’ spark and win. It has taken on a life of its own already. The rally balloon already has its own Twitter account and t-shirt.

Check out the balloon in action….

Caps Rally Balloon (Photo Courtesy of @jlrpuck)

Caps Rally Balloon (Photo Courtesy of @smheffern)

Rally Balloon (Photo Courtesy of @Divegirldc)

Ref Popped Second Rally Balloon (Photo Courtesy of @Divegirldc)


  • Tonight also marked Jason Chimera’s 600th career NHL game. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 9, 2000 while with Edmonton in a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles.
  • In case you live under rock, Sidney Crosby played in his first NHL game this season and played well. Alex Ovechkin was asked about Sid’s performance tonight and was very gracious.
  • Tonight’s game was part of the Hockey ‘N Heels event.
  • Bring your canned goods to the next game, Wednesday, Nov. 23. First 2,000 get a John Carlson poster.
  • Remember to vote for the Caps for NHL All-Star game
  • 24/7 DVD Launch Party
  • Remember to buy your new Courage Caps and T-shirts

Caps in Advance: Week 7

It was an extremely depressing week in the self-proclaimed “America’s Hockey Capital.”  Fans watched their Washington Capitals embark on a three-game road trip and return with no points.

The Caps let up last-minute goals to lose in Nashville, put forward a weak effort in Winnipeg, and then completely fell apart on a national stage with a 7-1 loss in Toronto.  Washington scored three goals, allowing 14, and are now the proud owners of a four-game losing streak, third worst in the NHL.

A week or two ago, the Caps’ week 7 slate looked like a promising opportunity to pick up some points and to challenge themselves against up-and-coming squads in the East.  Now, if you go by standings points, Alexander Ovechkin and company are underdogs in three of the four games, with the outlier being Wednesday’s match against the Jets (who, as noted above, walloped Washington last week).

And what of that company of Ovechkin?  Alexander Semin, who has recorded  more minor penalties (14) than points (9) this season, is expected to be a healthy scratch on Monday night.  In his place will skate Mathieu Perreault, who had surprisingly been relegated to the press box in five of the Caps’ past six games after a decent start in favor of the admittedly-impressive Cody Eakin.

Also expected to be scratched is either Jeff Schultz or Roman Hamrlik, whose poor performance has almost (almost) eclipsed the ongoing absence of Mike Green as the preeminent story on the D.C. blue line.  In one of their places will be Dmitry Orlov, a 6’0″, 210-pound wunderkind who brings puck movement, physicality, and exuberance to a depleted and depressed Capitals squad.

Games this week:


7:00pm, Verizon Center

Washington Capitals: 10-7-1, 21 points, 2nd in Southeast Division, 9th in Eastern Conference
Phoenix Coyotes: 10-5-3, 23 points, 2nd in Pacific Division, 5th in Western Conference
Only meeting this season

Last year:
Capitals: 48-23-11, 107 pts, 1st in Southeast Division, 1st in Eastern Conference
Coyotes: 43-26-13, 99 points, 3rd in Pacific Division, 6th in Western Conference

Phoenix, who sit in the middle of the Western Conference, could be a trap game for the Caps.  The Coyotes will be the fifth opponent Washington will only face once in the 2011-12 season; in the four previous games, Washington is 1-3-0, losing to the Edmonton Oilers (2-1), the Vancouver Canucks (7-4), and Dallas Stars (5-2), and falling behind by three goals to the Anaheim Ducks before storming back to tie the game in the last minute and then salvage a 5-4 overtime victory.

Statistically, Phoenix is in the middle of the league in goals scored (2.78/game, 16th overall) and goals allowed (2.39/game, 10th overall).  The Coyotes are led on offense by Ray Whitney (6 goals, 9 assists) and Radim Vrbata (8 goals, 7 assists).  Former Cap Boyd Gordon has been a revelation for Phoenix, with whom he signed a two-year, $2.65 million dollar contract on the first day of free agency.  Gordon has three goals in 18 games, matching his offensive output in 60 games with Washington last season, and the gritty center is a +7 while winning 55.7% of his draws, good for 10th best in the NHL (Nicklas Backstrom is the only Capital in the top 50, with a 51.4% win percentage good for 40th overall).

A key for the Caps will putting quality shots on netminder Mike Smith.  Phoenix is 2nd worst in the NHL in shots against, allowing 33.8 shots a game.  Smith has stopped most of those tries, and is 4th in the league with a .936 save percentage.  The shots will be plentiful for Washington at home on Monday night.  The key will be taking good shots and making Smith work, rather than letting him make easy stops that bolster his gaudy stats.

7:00 pm, Verizon Center

Washington Capitals: 10-7-1, 21 points, 2nd in Southeast Division, 9th in Eastern Conference
Winnipeg Jets: 8-9-3, 19 points, 4th in Southeast Division, 13th in Eastern Conference
Season Series: 0-1-0

Last year:
Jets (as Thrashers): 34-36-12, 80 points, 4th in Southeast Division, 12th in Western Conference

The chance for revenge against the Jets will come quickly for the Caps, who were dominated up and down the ice by Winnipeg last Thursday in a 4-1 loss.  Though Michal Neuvirth earned the loss, the Washington’s downfall was not a result of poor netminding but rather tepic play in the defensive zone and a complete lack of urgency in the offensive end.  The Jets are on a three-game winning streak, having triumphed in each of their games last week.

Winnipeg’s offense was led by Evander Kane, who scored twice and could have easily put in a couple others en route to the easy win.  Kane has eight goals on the season, half at home and half on the road, to lead the team in goals and points.  His surging Jets offense may soon be joined by erstwhile Capital Eric Fehr, who appears to have finally recovered from off-season shoulder surgery and was activated off Injured Reserve on Saturday.  Fehr, who hails from Winkler, Manitoba, just two hours outside Winnipeg, was traded by Washington to his childhood team in July for a 4th round draft pick and a prospect.

Beyond keeping a lid on Kane, Ovechkin and company will be hard put to solve Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who has been utterly dominant against the Caps as of late.  In his past four games against Washington, Pavelec is 4-0-0 with two shutouts, a 0.50 GAA, and a .985 save percentage.  If he’s not in the Caps’ head at this point, he should be.  Putting some early goals past Pavelec will be paramount to Washington’s success, otherwise they could be in for another disappointing night at home.

4:00pm, Verizon Center

Washington Capitals: 10-7-1, 21 points, 2nd in Southeast Division, 9th in Eastern Conference
New York Rangers: 10-4-3, 23 points, 3rd in Atlantic Division, 6th in Eastern Conference
First meeting this season

Last year:
Rangers: 44-33-5, 93 points, 3rd in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference

The day after Thanksgiving (the American version), while most readers will be relaxing from the previous day’s overeating and/or doing their Black Friday shopping, the Caps will host the Rangers for our entertainment.  Friday is a national holiday, and the league is taking advantage of that by scheduling this game for a late afternoon (4:00 p.m.) time slot.  Don’t underestimate the potential impact of the early start, the first of the year for Washington.  Hockey players generally have regimented routines for game days, predicated on not taking the ice until the evening.  The earlier time, combined with possible festivities the day prior, could lead to some lethargic NHLers.

On the ice, prized offseason acquisition Brad Richards has clicked with previous prized acquisition Marian Gaborik to pace New York’s offense.  Second in goals and third in points on the Blueshirts is a more surprising name, newly-minted captain Ryan Callahan.  The American-born winger, given the captaincy weeks before the season, is having a career year and is rising to the challenge of being a leader in the New York City spotlight.

Another revelation this season has been Dan Girardi, who’s been elevated to the team’s top defender in Marc Staal’s absence.  Girardi leads the NHL in time on ice, averaging 27:48 a game.  Along with Ryan McDonough, he’ll be tasked with shutting down the Caps top line.  The way Washington has been playing on offense as of late, that assignment may not be particularly tough for the New York defensemen.

7:00pm, First Niagara Center

Washington Capitals: 10-7-1, 21 points, 2nd in Southeast Division, 9th in Eastern Conference
Buffalo Sabres: 12-8-0, 24 points, 1st in Northeast Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference
First meeting this season

Last year:
Sabres: 43-29-10, 96 points, 3rd in Northeast Division, 7th in Eastern Conference

Buffalo is a franchise with a new lease on life, thanks to the spend-happy ways of first-year owner Terry Pegula.  Hefty free agent contracts were given to Ville Leino (6 years, $27 million) and Christian Erhoff (10 year, $40 million; technically Erhoff wasn’t a free agent, the Sabres traded for the negotiating rights of the UFA-to-be).  Erhoff has been steady and Leino has underperformed, but that’s no real worry for Buffalo because franchise stars Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek are lighting it up.

Pominville, who was named captain at the start of the season, is on pace for a 33-goal, 94-point season, which would be by far a career best.  The Sabres captain is tied for fifth in the NHL in points with 23, while his teammate Vanek is fourth with 24 points and is tied for fourth in the NHL in goals, with 11.  Star goaltender Ryan Miller has faltered, and is currently out with a concussion.  In his place, third-year backup Jhonas Enroth has been playing lights out, posting a 7-2-0 record with a .931 save percentage and 2.06 GAA.


GAME 11 RE-CAP: Eakin, Backstrom Demonstrate Scoring Touches in 5-1 Win Over Canes

The Washington Capitals had offered three uneven performances in a row, resulting in two losses and an overtime win.  Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps set forth to recapture their October surge and deliver a complete-game performance.  It isn’t a stretch to say they succeeded, dominating all aspects of the game in a 5-1 victory in (somewhat) hostile Raleigh, NC.

Cody Eakin Scores First NHL Goal! (Stock Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Friday was also an evening of firsts for Washington.  Jeff Halpern and John Carlson both recorded their first goals of the season, and then rookie Cody Eakin did them one better with his first career point and first career goal, all en route to victory.

John Carlson Scored His First Goal of Season (Stock Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Crucial to the victory was a 69-second sequence in the first minutes of the second period in which the Caps quickly transform a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead.  After Washington failed to convert on a power play, Boudreau sent out his fourth line to keep the puck in Carolina’s zone.  The trio of Matt Hendricks, Jeff Halpern and Jason Chimera had excelled in the cycle game in the first period, and continued that trend on their first shift of the second.  Halpern dished out to Karl Alzner at the blue line for a shot, and when the rebound eventually slid out to the slot Halpern was there to dive and knock in the puck for his first goal of the year.

From grit to beauty, Troy Brouwer gave Washington the lead two shifts later, hustling down the right wing on a 2-on-1 and knocking Marcus Johansson’s beautiful saucer pass over Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward’s left shoulder for his third of the year.  Eakin earned the secondary assist on the goal, giving him his first career point in his second career NHL game.

Although the final score makes the game seem as if it were a blowout, the result was up in the air until near the end.  Carolina scored first, on Anthony Stewart’s tip of Jay Harrison’s shot from the point just 3 1/2 minutes in, and Jeff Skinner appeared to tie the game at 2 on a Canes power play minutes after Brouwer’s goal, only to have it waved off because the referee erroneously blew the play dead a second prior.

The blown call appeared to deflate Carolina, and Washington never took their foot off the gas for the remainder of the game.

Carlson provided the first insurance goal for the Caps on a power play early in the third, utilizing his deceptively heavy slap shot to full effect.  The goal was set up by Nicklas Backstrom, whose perfect service from the right half-boards to Carlson on the left point allowed the young defenseman to step in to the shot with the full weight of his body.

Later in the third period Backstrom scored a goal of his own, his third over his past sixty minutes of hockey.  Alexander Ovechkin, who demonstrated consistent intent to dish the puck Friday night, set Backstrom up for a quick one-timer from the slot, a snap shot that Ward had no chance, and perhaps no desire, to stop.

In between the two Backstrom-inspired goals, Eakin potted a goal that was more befitting a seasoned sniper than a wide-eyed 20-year-old.  Alex Semin was the catalyst on the play, tipping a puck past Joni Pitkanen in Washington’s zone to start a 2-on-1.  Semin carried the puck down the boards then dished to Eakin just across the blue line and burst for the net.  Understandably, Ward and defenseman Jamie McBain keyed in on the player with 178 career NHL goals and guarded against the pass, leaving the rookie (who has 118 goals over his past 4 WHL seasons) to wrist the puck to the top left corner for his first NHL strike.

“He has unbelievable skill, and you can see how easy he put the puck in the net,” said Ovechkin of his young teammate after the game.

CAPS NOTES: With Halpern’s return to the lineup, Mathieu Perreault was a healthy scratch for the Caps.  Perreault has been consistent in his effort this season but had not found his way onto the scoresheet in recent games.  Previously Perreault has responded well to benchings and reassignments, and likely Boudreau’s hope is that the young center responds similarly to this benching.

Nicklas Backstrom vaulted himself into a tie for 3rd in scoring in the NHL (at least as of the time this article was posted) with 16 points, after his goal and assist.  The two players ahead of Backstrom, Toronto’s Phil Kessel and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, have both played two more games than the young Swede.

Coming in to Friday night, Washington’s penalty kill was in the bottom of the NHL, successfully at only a 75% pace.  Against Carolina the Caps excelled both at limiting penalties, taking only four penalties, and killing them off, allowing only 5 shots and no goals.

GAME 10 RE-CAP: Caps steal game from Ducks on Backstrom’s late goals

Caps celebrate Backstrom's game tying goal (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

The Anaheim Ducks, in the midst of a grueling seven-game road trip, looked like the homestanding team at Verizon Center early last night, jumping out to a 3-0 lead mid-way though the second period.  But the resilient Washington Capitals, who looked tired and uninterested through 30 minutes of play, stormed back, fairly dominating play the rest of the way until Nicklas Backstrom tied the game with 42 seconds remaining in regulation, then hit for the game-winner 2:18 into overtime to remain undefeated in the United States this season

The Caps run their season record to 8-2-0 with the 5-4 win and stole two points from their Western Conference opponent, when defeat seemed all but certain early. [Read more…]

CAPS: Eakin Makes NHL Debut; Erskine Back

The Washington Capitals have recalled forward Cody Eakin from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL). Eakin will be making his NHL debut wearing number 50.

Cody Eakin during training camp (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Eakin, 20, has recorded eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 games with Hershey in the AHL this season. In his first full professional season, Eakin ranks fourth on Hershey in points and is tied for third in goals. He is currently tied for eighth in the league in points among rookies. Eakin appeared in four regular-season games for Hershey during the 2009-10 season (two goals) and played in five postseason games as Hershey won the 2010 Calder Cup.

In addition to Eakin’s NHL debut, Caps defenseman John Erskine will be making his season debut. Big John has been rehabbing a surgically repaired shoulder, however, has been cleared for contact and will be in the lineup tonight. Not only will he be ditching the orange no contact practice jersey, he’ll be growing his mustache again for Movember. Check out Erskine’s Movember page and make a donation to help John “change the face of men’s health.”

John Erskine is no longer wearing the orange practice jersey (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Caps Practice Update: Eakin up, Halpern out for matchup with Ducks

It was a busy morning for the Washington Capitals.

The team recalled forward Cody Eakin from AHL Hershey and he is expected to make his NHL debut tonight when the Caps face the Anaheim Ducks (5-5-1-11).  Jeff Halpern will be scratched for the first time this season and took extra skating with other scratches after practice this morning, including D.J. King, who was waived yesterday but apparently cleared waivers and practiced with the team.

Former Capitals Captain Jeff Halpern (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

The team also returned defenseman Sean Collins to Hershey while John Erskine, who has missed every game this season rehabbing a surgically repaired shoulder, has been cleared for contact and will be in the lineup tonight. [Read more…]

Capitals pare roster; Send down Eakin, Sjogren, Orlov

Cody Eakin skates at Kettler during training camp. (photo by Cheryl Nichols)

The Washington Capitals re-assigned forwards Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov to Hershey of the AHL, per multiple sources.  All three were fighting for ice time with more NHL-experienced players and will be expeceted to lead the Bears in their journey to the Calder Cup playoffs, though they will all be on the short list to return to D.C. should the situation call for it.

With these cuts, forwards Matthieu Perreault and Jay Beagle will break camp with the big club.

As of now, the Caps will carry 14 forwards and seven defensemen, though with Tom Poti headed to Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) and John Erskine perhaps not quite ready to start the season as he continues to rehab from shoulder surgery, the club may recall a defenseman to have seven healthy, active blueliners. [Read more…]

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