Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

After the Capitals’ somewhat easy 4-1 victory over the Eastern Conference’s best team Wednesday, Nicklas Backstrom spoke to Versus’ Pierre McGuire. In explaining the team’s troubles this year, Backstrom said, “I think we haven’t been working hard enough. Everybody has to commit and do their job, and that’s what we haven’t been doing.”

It’s hard to express optimism that the Caps have finally turned the corner, if they can’t string a couple of solid victories together, and — you know — actually turn the corner. Would they bring the energy again in their second match-up in three games against the Buffalo Sabres, a team who has given the Caps fits all year?

You tell me. Photo recap time!

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Russian Machine Never Breaks: We Suck, 2011 Edition

We just finished basking in the glow of our successes in the past year. Ahhhh… Yes, that was nice.

But now it’s over, and we must look ourselves in the mirror to see the billion things we have screwed up over the past year. We’ve got a huge collection of embarrassments and goof-ups that should have shamed us out of blogging altogether. But we’re shameless. You already knew that.

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Photo credit: Francois Laplante

Evgeny Kuznetsov has done a lot of spectacular things in his young career: he was the youngest player ever to be named to a KHL all-star game; he’s starred in a movie; he scored the game-winning goal to win Russian the Karjala Cup; and he got married at 19. Late Thursday night in Calgary, Kuzya had the game of his life notching an incredible three goals, six assists, and nine points in a 14-0 thrashing of Latvia. It was the second most points ever scored in a World Junior Championship game.

After the game, Allhockey.ru’s Andrey Osadchenko spoke to Kuznetsov and filmed his entire Q/A with reporters. Below the jump, I offer a translation.

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Kuznetsov and his teammates celebrate his hat-trick. (Photo credit: Mike Sturk)

19-year-old Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov had 0 points heading into Russia’s third World Junior Championship game. On Monday, he was shutdown in Russia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland. On Wednesday, a frustrated Kuznetsov still could not land on the scoresheet despite rifling nine shots on goal against the Slovaks.

Enter Latvia. After not registering a point in the game’s first 27 minutes, Kuznetsov exploded, tallying an insane nine points over the next 33 minutes pushing Russia to a 14-0 victory.

You can check out video of his big night below the jump.

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