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.
Question: Zhenya, first of all, congratulations on the victory. Second, do you believe in superstitions?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No, not really.
Question: Everything didn’t go smoothly in the first period. Then Grigorenko looked to get badly injured. How did you react?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Misha seems to be okay, thank god. Of course I was frustrated he got injured and couldn’t continue to play. But we won and everything is okay.
Question: Did his injury have any affect on the game? Did you guys want to exact some revenge?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No, we did not. Everybody understands that you can’t take penalties. You can get suspended two or three games for that. It would hurt the team.
Question: How do you compare this tournament with last year’s WJC? Do you draw any parallels?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No, that one is in the past and this one is new and we need to build everything over again.
Question: Do you know how many points you had?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Maybe nine, I was told here. Just one shy [of the record], but that’s not a problem.
Question: Is it important for you?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Most importantly, my partners scored. That’s the most important thing.
Question: Did you take the puck from the hat-trick?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I don’t know, I didn’t think a lot about it. Again, it’s not important who scored, we won and that’s it.
Question: How did you feel playing on the CSKA line (after Grigorenko’s injury, Kuznetsov played on two lines, one with Apalkov and Kosov and one with Gusev and Kucherov – the so-called “CSKA line”)?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: It’s good to play with anyone but when we talked to each other, some crazy plays started to work and I enjoyed it. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it before, I felt great playing with those linemates. Everybody played well. We have no weak players.
Question: It looks like you’re back to center. What do you think about that?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: It’s difficult to judge. We’ll talk with the coach tomorrow, and he’ll tell me how to play and… This game’s in the past, we need to start thinking about the next one.
Question: Why did everything start working today? In the first two games, [Russia] had 3 goals each and the offense didn’t really click. Today, it looked like everything worked.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I don’t know, it’s difficult to say. For me personally, it’s kind of a tradition. Last year, I first scored in the third game of the tournament, tonight I hoped… It’s a very pleasant feeling that I was able to play like that.
Question: Last year, you had four goals and eleven points. Now, you have three and nine. Are you going after a record?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Two more will make it nice.
Question: Are you saving them for the Swedes?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No. It doesn’t matter how many goals I score or assist on. Team wins and everything else… you shouldn’t give a damn about it.
Question: The Candians are talking seriously about you now. They mocked us that we only scored three goals in each of the first two games. Now they fear you.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I don’t remember what they said. What’s his name… Bob McKenzie, right? Say hi to him for me. I watched a show. I didn’t understand everything, but he praised everyone and he didn’t say a lot of good things about [Russia]. It’s not a problem. I think we proved tonight that we can score, score on an empty net, score hard-working goals and, most importantly, we allowed no goals tonight and helped Vasya [Andrei Vasilevsky] again. As they say it here, “shutout.”
Question: You follow McKenzie, but do you follow Canada’s play?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I was amazed they didn’t select certain players, but they play the same way all the time. They’re always good. Especially playing at home, in front of a whole arena, they’ll be tough. But they always play the same way and it’s very difficult to play against them.
Question: Did you know that Russia now has the same goal differential [as Canada] but has allowed fewer goals? Russia leads this year’s WJC in fewest goals allowed.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No, I just found that out now.
Question: [Analysts] have said that Russia’s defense would be the one true weakness of this team, but so far we have been the best…
Evgeny Kuznetsov: That statement is a weakness of who said that, not ours. I was confident in our goalie, that he’d play well. Both of our goalies — even the third — can play. The entire line needs to play defense and tonight we showed that we can execute the coach’s plan. Just as he said, “everybody returns, everbody helps out.” It gives the result. We can’t give up on defense.
Question: Zhenya, when was the last time you won with such a high score?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I don’t really remember this big of a win. I actually haven’t had a hat trick in like four years. Yes, a long time. It was a big win… every win is good. Sometimes it’s more pleasant to win 1-0 than like this.
Question: You live in the same hotel as the Latvians. Did you talk to them before the game?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No, we didn’t. They’re great guys, I can’t say anything bad about them, they were fighting, they gave their best effort. I think they’ll win the next game they play and will be okay.
Question: Do you say hi when you meet them?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Of course. You say hi to any hockey player. It’s mutual respect.
Question: Did you know about Forsberg’s record on the bench?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Yeah, I was joking like, “Throw me out there! I have one point left!” It really was only that. I was unable to do it, but that’s not a big deal. The most important thing is we won.