Minnesota Wild Pregame: Yah Sure, You Betcha

The other Nick Backstrom. (Photo credit: Doug Benc)

Healing Breath: So alright, everybody feel safe now? Good. Now, everyone, breathe in….and blow it out. Good; that’s good. And let’s just stick with “blow” for a moment, shall we?

Friday was basically the Mir of hockey games (look it up, noobs.) We all watched, incredulous, as our Hero Caps slung their way to 3-0, only to slump to end 4-3, mostly during the last third, as the flaming wreckage fell back to Earth. Honestly, that last stanza? Blowing chunks all over that very pretty, expensive Verizon sheet. In a phrase: everybody was Byfuglian-en.

OK, cleansing breath now; suck it in….and, blow it out. Blow hard…good.

The Pregamer: As a cure for our Capitals PTSD (Post Traumatic Suckage Disorder) we slopped out to Kettler today to see just wha’ what was up with the what wha’. We learned several things.

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Nine days ago, on KHL-TV’s “The Icing Show,” 19-year-old Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov revealed that he would stay in Russia next season.

“To be honest, my decision has been reached,” Kuznetsov told host Igor Larin. “It is my intention to continue my career in the KHL. At the same time there is no clarity as to which club it will be.”

Since then, no context has been gleaned from his statement until now.

Earlier today, Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice, including the game-winner, to help push Traktor Chelyabinsk to the Eastern Conference Finals. In an interview with Rossiya 2 TV after the game, Kuznetsov admitted that his statement about staying in KHL was not serious. “I said that I am staying so they’d leave me alone.”

Below the jump, I offer a complete translation of his comments.

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Kuznetsov interviewed during Game 4. (Photo credit: Sergey Manzheleev / Ak Bars)

This may or may not be the year when Evgeny Kuznetsov comes to DC. Nonetheless, the Caps prospect continues to put another impressive KHL season under his belt as Traktor Chelyabinsk only needed 11 games to get through two rounds of the playoffs. After their 4-1 victory over Ak Bars today – which Kuznetsov tallied the game-winning goal, Traktor will now face Avangard Omsk and Roman Cervenka, in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Kuzya missed part of the first round with a knee injury he suffered in the second to last game of the regular season. Once he returned, he was not in game shape, being held without a point in his two first playoff games. But then Kuznetsov showed his big-play ability again by scoring five goals in six games, including two game-winners and one series-winner.

Want to see all of Kuzya’s playoff goals? Check them out below the jump.

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How Swede this news is! (Photo via dumpnchase.com)

Nicklas Backstrom has missed the last 37 games — almost half of the season — dealing with concussion symptoms after Rene Bourque elbowed him in the head on January 3rd. But after skating by himself for 10 of the last 11 days, Backstrom was cleared to practice today with his teammates without any restrictions. If all goes well, the Capitals number one center could return before *gasp* the end of the regular season.

“It’s good sign for us,” Ovechkin told the media at Kettler after practice “Everybody knows we miss him. He’s that kind of guy we need right now. So I hope he’s going to be OK and he going to help us in these kind of games.”

Once in game shape and ready to return, Backstrom will have to pass a neuropsychological test and then be cleared by a doctor according to team trainer Greg Smith.

After blowing a three-goal lead against Winnipeg last night, this is exactly the kind of lift the team needed. In the Caps first 39 games of the season, Backstrom was the team’s MVP, averaging more than a point per game. In fact, he was on pace to tally 90-plus points, which would have been his second best season in the NHL — all sorely needed offense for a team that lacks center depth.

Below, I’ve transcribed Backstrom’s full comments to the Caps media today.

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