Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Next Up is the Stanley Cup”

Russia: The 2011 World Junior Champions

Caps prospects Dmitri Orlov (center, holding the trophy’s handle) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (bottom right, biting his medal enthusiastically) pose with Team Russia following their thrilling 5-3 victory over Canada in the WJC’s Gold Medal Game. (Photo credit: Nathan Denette)

Evgeny Kuznetsov embraces Head Coach Valeri Bragin. (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)

HUGS! Evgeny Kuznetsov embraces Head Coach Valeri Bragin. (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)

If you’ve been paying close attention to RMNB over the past few months, you were already well-aware of the gem that the Capitals have in Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov, who has been tearing it up this season with the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk, found his game when it mattered most in this year’s World Junior Championship. The Russian-born winger finished as the tournament’s second-leading scorer with four goals and eight assists, and led Russia to its first WJC gold medal since 2003.

In the quarterfinals against Finland, Kuznetsov single-handedly brought his team back from a 3-1 deficit registering a goal, an assist, and the overtime game-winner. The 18-year old then followed up that clutch performance with yet another one against the Canadians in the Gold Medal Game. In front of a boisterous pro-Canadian crowd at Buffalo’s HSBC Arena, Kuz assisted on three goals in the third period, including a no-look pass to Vladimir Tarasenko that yielded the game-tying goal.

Suffice to say, when Kuznetsov landed back home in Russia this past Saturday, he was met with a large media horde. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has translated two Russian articles from this past weekend, which detail Evgeny’s feelings on his new gold medal, what it was like to play in front of such a hostile crowd, and that whole ‘underage-drinking/being-kicked-off-a-plane’ scandal.

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Happy Birthday, Ted! Caps beat Panthers 3-2

cleanshavenalexovechkin

Shave: check. Haircut: check. GWG: double check. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Last time the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers met, we were treated to a mortifying 3-0 shutout on home ice. Meeting for the first time in the new year, again at Verizon Center, the Caps had a chance to redeem themselves and start off the season’s second half right.

Coming off a successful penalty kill, Florida’s Mike Santorelli earned the first goal of the night, making the best of some bad defensive reads and a great pass from Dmitry Kulikov. Eric Fehr returned fire, placing the puck on the top shelf after a wraparound attempt from Mike Green.  In the third and while on the power play, Mike Green used some creativity to create a backhand goal from the slot. Then Alex Ovechkin added another piece of film to his reel, a lovely semi-breakaway wrister while getting tripped. We thought Ovi’s was the insurance goal until Evgeny Dadonov turned a Varlamov rebound into the Panther’s second of the night. The away team had a primo chance to even it up in the final minute after Nick Backstrom’s crosscheck penalty, but it never happened. Caps beat Panthers 3-2.
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Breaking Up The Band

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Stop me if you heard this one before: Boudreau is making line changes. Not exactly Yoko and the Beatles, but it looks like Ovi and Backstrom are being split up. Again. Will it make a difference?

Tough to say. Last year the numbers suggested Backstrom needed Ovechkin way more than the reverse, but this year the numbers at even strength are not so clear.

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Alan May Mic’d up at the Winter Classic Alumni Game

Not five minutes ago, over in the Machinist, Peter was griping about CSN not posting their video of Alan May at Friday’s alumni game. Then Ian found it.

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The Machinist: January 7, 2011

We’ve passed by the holidays, but the Winter Classic is still in our rear mirrors. Peter, for example, has yet to find anything interesting to write about it that someone else hasn’t already written. But here we stand, facing down a gauntlet of hockey games before the All-Star break.

Traffic is up 120%, which is insane. Ovechkin should do two commercials a week every week. Goal for this year is to beat Facebook.

Recommended with prejudice: SHOE’s guide to AHL All-star voting

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ovechkin-shoots

There are a lot of excuses reasons why Alex Ovechkin isn’t performing like we know the Great 8 can, but the one that really makes me scratch my head is when people say that he is “saving himself” for the playoffs.

I would have to think if a player can score goals, then he would score goals – especially if, let’s say, the team was to get mired in a prolonged non-win streak or the power play was just, well, not powerful.

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Bleep dat bleep up

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Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT), Goalies’ Stats Say Thanks

hendricks versus downie

Matt Hendricks beats up Steve Downie blindfolded. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

The Washington Capitals hoped the Winter Classic buzz wouldn’t interfere with their hometown appointment with Southeast rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. With both teams sitting atop the division, the stakes were high, even if the game lacked the theatrics of Saturday’s Hustle at Heinz.

Unfortunately, the Caps couldn’t set off any offensive fireworks. After a sleepy first period, the red team started mounting a real effort, but they never beat 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, just acquired from the Islanders. In overtime, it was another vet, Martin St. Louis, who finally put a puck past Semyon Varlamov, a tasty rebound off Vincent Lacavalier. At least we got one standings point. Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT).

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Come on, Steve Levy. Ovi’s no Russian Spy!

Thanks to Kathryn H. for sharing!

Could An Ovechtrick Actually Happen?

Spell: Ovechtrick

Back in October, when Alex Ovechkin used to score goals, I ran a simulation estimating his chances at getting 50 in 50. Yea, he really did score goals back then enough to inspire me to write that. The simulation had him scoring on average 42 goals (plus or minus 8 ) in an 82-game season, and while it seemed far-fetched at the time, here we are staring at a 30-goal season out of the Great 8. So why not see how absurd possible it would be for him to get the Ovechtrick.

For those of you that missed it, an Ovechtrick is a 9-goal game scored by Ovechkin. Those muckity mucks at Verizon are clever, eh?

To estimate his chances I will again use a Monte Carlo simulation to run 10,000 “games.” It starts with me using the shots on goal and shooting percentage during the regular season for Ovechkin during this season and the last two. Then I figure out how frequently these events occurred and let lady luck work her fickle magic.

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