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Ryan Zimmerman Is In The Best Hockey Shape of His Life

The World Series Champion suited up to take the ice with the Caps

by Taryn Bray @tarynbray /

Ryan Zimmerman, World Series Champion, full-time baseball player, part-time goalie?

Zim put his hockey skills to the test Wednesday afternoon at MedStar Capitals Iceplex when he surprised the team after practice as he skated onto the ice in full goaltender gear.

Let's pause for a second -- how did we get here? Well the story starts back a couple years.

Zimmerman was at dinner with Nicklas Backstrom and after a few drinks were shared and some riffing back and forth about "how hard could it possibly be?" for Zimmerman to take the ice, Backstrom challenged him to come out to a practice sometime and suit up in net.

Fast forward three years to today and Zimmerman decided it was time he make good on his deal with Nicky.

"This was a conversation that we had years ago and I couldn't back down," he said.

The thought process behind playing goalie was that Zimmerman is a first baseman, he uses a glove and catches a ball thrown or hit to him - so those skills would more easily translate to being a goalie than any other position on the ice.

When he arrived, assistant coach/video Brett Leonhardt (who played goalie collegiately) lent him his gear and helped him suit up. Leonhardt taught him some basic skills of goaltending before sending him on his way.

Tweet from @Capitals: A little bit of a bigger glove for Zim today 😬

Once on the ice, he skated over to the team huddled up after drills and was welcomed with big cheers and the customary stick taps.

After his introduction from head coach Todd Reirden, he made his way between the pipes where his first task was taking one-timers from Alex Ovechkin. Not the easiest of feats… Just ask any NHL netminder.

"It was hard, but I expected it to be hard," Zimmerman said.

Other guys then started taking slapshot and shootout practice on him. You could tell that after just 10 minutes in the net, he was exhausted.

"I was impressed by his glove. It's awesome that he came out here after us talking about it three years ago," said Backstrom.

As a first baseman, the glove side came easy to him but the weak side may need a little bit of work - although we may never see him on the ice again after today.

"What a great experience. Terrifying, but fun," Zimmerman said. "Glad I did it, but I'll never do it again."

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