I’m just gonna put this up front: Yes, Ian is still calling them the Warshington Capitals.
Here’s our second ever RMNB Podcast. Ian and I got together on a balmy Sunday night to talk about the excitement surrounding Evgeny Kuznetsov, the trade deadline, and the Caps’ chances of making the playoffs. Plus, somewhere in there, we tease some important RMNB news.
Sunday was Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s first full day as an official Washington Capital, and we were all over it. Our intrepid reporters were at Kettler Capitals Iceplex first thing in the morning, taking photos, and covering his first press conference. But we also got a couple minutes with the man himself to chat in his native tongue.
RMNB’s own Igor Kleyner and Kuznetsov chatted about his first few hours in Washington, expectations for the Penguins game, and comparisons to Evgeni Malkin. Igor’s got your translation below.
Evgeny Kuznetsov will be living with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin during his initial stay in America, and while he’s been really appreciative of Ovi’s kindness, he’s seemed lukewarm about being taken care of by his teammate.
What will Kuzya’s usage tell us about Adam Oates as a coach? (Photo: Chris Gordon)
The Capitals got two out of six points this week. They’re currently 18 points behind the division-leading Penguins and two points out of third place, behind the Rangers, who have a game in hand. While the team’s distance from first illustrates how far they are from challenging for the Cup, their proximity to the playoffs might be a bit misleading.
The Caps haven’t won a lot of games in rego or overtime this season (just 22), which is the basis for tiebreakers in the standings. Finishing the 82-game season with the same number of points as the last wild card team would mean the Caps are bound for the golf course, so they’re gonna have to leapfrog a team– or hope someone else melts down.
In this week’s snapshot, we’ll look at which teams might helpfully implode to make way for the Caps!
After doing sprints and drills, Kuznetsov left the ice and signed autographs for the adoring public. He then jumped into the Caps conference room where he answered questions for twenty minutes and said at least 19 completely different words in English.
Yes, it’s finally Kuzya Time. I’ve got your photos.
At Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Sunday morning, a dozen reporters and three photographers watched EvgenyKuznetsov skate around for 45 minutes. It was eight in the morning and he was the only player on the ice. Fans held up signs welcoming him in Russian and wore his KHL jersey in the stands. The day before, Kuznetsov had signed a two-year entry-level contract with Washington, ending a four year battle to bring him over from the KHL after being drafted 26th overall by the Capitals in 2010.
“My contract is over,” Kuznetsov told reporters gathered in the Kettler conference room. “I’m excited. All is good.”
“Any hockey player wants to play in the NHL, wants to win the Cup,” he added. “It’s my dream to play in the NHL. I’m happy to see you. I’m ready 100 percent. I want to play.”
If the Caps squeak into the playoffs, you might have to thank Karl Alzner. Not for his defense — something a bit lacking on the Caps lately — but his offense. With 10:15 left in an important game against the Phoenix Coyotes, Karl unleashed a wrist shot from the near point, which went through traffic before beating Mike Smith over his right shoulder. Though Washington looked lifeless for the first 50 minutes, that goal ignited an incredible comeback, featuring two goals in 32 seconds and two points in the standings.
“I was excited,” Alzner told reporters after the game. “Everyone seemed really excited. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was me who scored it and not a guy who normally scores, but people seemed really up after that. It was the perfect momentum swing and the perfect line to come out right after that. It was the perfect storm for us.”
The Washington Capitals wrapped up a week of tremendously unimpressive hockey with a stunning comeback win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
It started off great with Alex Ovechkin generating four shots in the game’s first six minutes, but the Caps couldn’t sustain the pressure, giving the Coyotes the puck and plenty of opportunity to pepper first-time Capitals Jaroslav Halak in goal. Down two goals with ten minutes to go, the Caps summoned up some magic they hadn’t used since last week: even-strength scoar.
Brandon McMillan struck first, catching Keith Yandle’s stretch pass while the Caps were making a line change. Radim Vrbata made it 2-0 with a power play goal that dwibblwed between Halak’s pads.
But then! Karl Alzner tallied goal number two of the season thanks to a feed from Eric Fehr, and then Brooks Laich tied it up thirty seconds later. Life back in Verizon Center, and then everyone’s head exploded as Backstrom gave Troy Brouwer a layup to put the Caps up from the Ovi spot.
On June 25 2010, the Washington Capitals selected Evgeny Kuznetsov 26th overall. They saw him as one of the top players in the draft. He had only fallen so low, the Capitals thought, because some teams were uncertain when or if he would come to North America. George McPhee thought he could bring the 18-year-old Russian over within a year. One thousand three hundred fifty-two days later, Kuznetsov signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Caps.
“We’ve been working on it for four years,” McPhee told reporters before Washington’s game against Phoenix on Saturday. “It’s kind of like seeing the Loch Ness Monster when he walked in. We’ve heard of you, but we haven’t seen you. There he was and I found it hard to believe he was standing there after all this. It’s a pretty neat feeling that this kid’s in the fold and he’s a pretty darn good player.”