Carolina Hurricanes Preview: Point Break

Doug Johnson: Puck Buddy, dog owner, hockey fan, public intellectual. Follow @PuckBuddys.  

The Pregame: So you gotta give credit where it’s due. Whatever your political leanings (ours is usually doubled over, holding our stomachs, in the loo) that ol’ Newton Leroy Gingrich gets points for some sassy thinking. Seems then-Speaker Stay-Puft, some six years into an affair with a young House staffer (and Tiffany connoisseur) named Calista, basically told his wife Marianne that she would need to “share” him with his mistress. (There we are in the loo again.) At least, this according to ex-wife Marianne – no, not the one he divorced while she was in the hospital, that was a totes different wife! – who basically told Newt to get stuffed. He dumps her, marries the mistress who promptly begins a powerful benziodiazepine regimen (we’re making that part up) and now all is lollipops, the end.

We bring this up, in part because it’s still a larf-riot, but also because we’re doing some sassy thinkin’ of our own. Let’s just say, completely hypothetical here, that you’re the GM of a professional sports team with loads of potential but some underperforming talent. What to do? You want to keep him; sure, who doesn’t? But maybe you could also find a comely, pliable team somewhere else that may just want to share a little of his upkeep and tending while making you look genius. Everyone wins, right?

And thus American civic life dies a muffled death.

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Before leaving for the 2012 World Junior Championships, Evgeny Kuznetsov had been in a a slump, tallying only two assists in five KHL games. Since he returned from Calgary, the WJC Tournament MVP regained his lost form posting four goals and three assists in his last five contests for Traktor Chelyabinsk. His game-winning goal against SKA Saint Petersburg on Tuesday reclaimed for him the league lead (6) from teammate Petteri Kontiola. Kuzya also had a four-game point streak, snapped on Thursday in a 3-2 loss to Dinamo Riga. That streak fell one game short of tying his KHL career best.

Despite their first line winger’s late December slump, Traktor hasn’t missed a beat. The White Bears are 8-4-2 in their last 14 games and lead the KHL’s Eastern Conference with 84 points. Though the KHL trade deadline was a bit of disappointment for the Chelyabinsk team — the only notable acquisition was Avangard’s veteran defenseman Dmitry Ryabykin — Traktor looks poised to make a playoff run in the spring. Their young superstar will now travel to Riga to participate in his second straight KHL All-Star game with Team Fedorov.

Since his last two weeks in Russia have been particularly noteworthy, let’s take a look back at his goals, fancy assists, and bizarre celebrations.

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