Photo: @katie_brown47

Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s debut as a Washington Capital was a little like that first crepe, which, according to Russian proverb, tends to come out as a lump. The Capitals came agonizingly close to victory in Monday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but walked away with no points to show for their effort. In the end, that loss had little to do with how well the 21-year-old Russian rookie played.

Playing for a team on the wrong side the playoff line, Kuznetsov seemed to understand the gravity of his situation as he spoke in Russian after the game to Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports, Igor Tichonenko of Voice of America, and yours truly. Zhenya didn’t really want to talk about his individual performance, no matter how much it probably meant to him. The team lost, he wasn’t able to help, and that’s what was on his mind.

Here is the translation of our short conversation.

What are your impressions after the first game?

Evgeny Kuznetsov: We lost, so it’s very disappointing. So I don’t think I played very well. If we won the game…

Did you have enough time to prepare for the game?

E.K.: Yes, I was fully ready, but the way it turned out… it’s just disappointing we lost. It doesn’t matter how I played, we needed to win.

Your very first shift, you were welcomed to the NHL with a bodycheck.

E.K.: Yes, that’s exactly what happened, but that’s really no big deal. It’s hockey.

As the game progressed, you seemed to have gained more confidence, felt more comfortable on the ice…

E.K.: Yes, after the first period was over, my body relaxed a bit; until then, I was very tense and nervous. Again, it’s so upsetting that we lost; we needed to win the game. In the third period we played well and put a lot of pressure on them, but I am going to say it again: it doesn’t matter how I played personally. What matters is we needed to win.

When did you feel that your nerves finally calmed down?

E.K.: It wasn’t even nervousness, sometimes I simply wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. Of course, a lot was explained to me, tactically and otherwise, before the game – but when you are on the ice, it’s all different. But by the end of the first period I started to understand “what, where, and how.”

When you had some ice time on the power play, did you feel sufficiently confident?

E.K.: I made a bad pass – that was disappointing, there was a chance for Sasha [Ovechkin], he was skating in on goal… Well, next game we will play better and win, that’s what I hope for.

Did you feel any psychological pressure – you know, because they’ve been waiting for you here for such a long time?

E.K.: No, not at all. It wasn’t psychological. I was fully concentrating on the game, nothing was bothering me.

Are you playing tomorrow? It’s against the same opponent as today.

E.K.: Of course, if the put me in the lineup, I am ready to play. We must play better and win.

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  • MuzzMuzzington

    Really excited at the prospect of him and Grabo being on the same line. If we ever have a healthy second line center again.

  • VeggieTart

    I like this kid.

  • Sara

    ^^ Ditto!! ^^

  • Myan

    He had a good first game but it was funny that Oates had a whole thing about not letting him on the first line out of fairness to the other guys and then BOOM! Kuyza’s on the PP! I thought he showed good composure and poise but his stuff attempt on the PP could have been a bit more assertive…it looked like he hesitated for just a split second there. Looking forward to seeing what the kid can do tonight!

  • Igor Kleyner

    Just in case anybody went “First crepe…WTF!” – no, I am not making it it up, there actually is a Russian proverb referring to the expected quality of the first crepe: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Russian_proverbs#.D0.9F . Yeah, it uses “blob” instead of “lump” (whatever) and “pancake” instead of “crepe” (wrong, that’s why you should never use wiki as your source for culinary terms of Russian origin), but you get the idea…

  • It was only one game (again, it was only one game – I need to keep telling myself that), but Kuznetsov’s skills seemed to translate positively to the NHL. I really think next year is going to be fun.

    Like he was quicker than I thought he’d be. He was very strong around the boards (which I was not expecting). His vision is phenomenal. He sure did look a little lost at times, but he looked more comfortable than I thought he’d be playing more of a north and south game.

    This interview, when I first saw it, was surprising too. It’s all about the team, nothing about him. It’s really going to be fun watching him grow as a player.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Here in Morocco, I’ve noticed people use the term “pancake” for things that those of us from the US would consider a thicker type of crepe.

  • Harjot Singh

    If he learns english a little bit better this guy might be a hell of a leader.

  • Austin Baird

    I think I remember GMGM saying that he was built “like a twig” when they drafted him but now he’s really filled out and is much stronger. I forget where I read that

  • Shaun Phillips

    Future captain?

  • Barrett

    To be fair, it was the second power play unit.

  • Barrett

    I’d rather see him on the wing opposite Ovechkin.

  • Barrett

    I still vote Brooks Laich for that role. I prefer a captain that does the dirty work. It’s easier to follow a guy that grinds the corners, crashes the net, screens the goalie, blocks shots, plays on the power play and kills penalties over a guy who is a prolific goal scorer that plays lackadaisical defense and never kills penalties. No one can every really question your leadership when you are busting your ass in every facet of the game.

  • Todd N

    so why was wellman and wey recalled…whos not playing tonight???

  • Barrett

    “I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do…”

    He must be talking about defense. No worries Khuzya, nobody else on the coaching staff or roster does either.

    Anyone else catch Al Koken interview Calle Johansson on the bench….his comments made me cringe.

  • Barrett

    No toaster strudel or pop tarts?

  • Owen Johnson
  • Owen Johnson

    Carrick? Please?? Or wait, what hand does Wey shoot with, because that OBVIOUSLY is the be-all end-all way to fix your D pairings.

  • Shaun Phillips

    How does the sum of 3 & 4 end up lower? I’d think it would be ranked higher. Is this more #fancystats?

  • Owen Johnson

    Well, Laich won’t be here forever, and from what I see so far, Kuzya is exactly the type of person I would follow into battle (or more accurately, a hockey game). However, to quote the writers of this site we have a “small sample size.”

  • Ternesti

    Tom Wilson.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Way too early to call this one as we’ve never seen him do anything except fight.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Ovi will be around a lot longer than Laich will be.

  • Phil Owen

    He’s possibly a young Sergei Fedorov. That’s who I see when I watch Kuznetsov skate and handle the puck.

    In other words, this is a puppy with big paws.

  • yv

    After 3 games played Stamkos has 0 points on 8 shots and 66+min on ice, so Kuzya still has a lot of time to score his first.
    Curiously, Kuzya has been signed by GMGM to much less P bonuses than expected and than many others. Maybe it is something to do that he was selected 26th and not on top 10?

  • RT23

    As a correctly raised NY’er I can speak authoritatively on this. Pizza is Pizza, A Bagel is a Bagel, both are the purest essence of themselves. A pizzabagel is an un-holy creation that violates the laws of nature. (but they are actually pretty tasty)

  • RT23

    He’s quicker because he doesn’t have 20 sponsor logos on his jersey. They were like ankle weights.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Big praise, but having watched Fedorov when he first came to Detroit, I can definitely see some parallels. Very exciting if he pans out even close to that.

  • Twisted

    That second line needs to figure it the **** out. They were terrible last night, and by “they” were terrible i mean MoJo. As for what to do with 92. The top six when healthy sould be 17-19-8 followed by 92-84-20. Grabo needs to heal up but I like Oates giving Kuzya looks with other lines just to see if any chemistry is there. If only he would do that for another Caps rookie. MoJo and Laich are complete wastes right now.

  • Chris Cerullo

    2nd unit PP minutes are still counted the same…

  • Myan

    True, but he was still given that responsibility. I think the only PP time Wilson’s gotten was on that goal he scored off Ovi’s pass against the Islanders. I’m holding back on my Kuyza excitement for now but I think we can all agree that he looked right at home last night 🙂

  • Barrett

    I have no problem with him getting 2nd unit Power play time over some of the other guys, you need shooters on the half wall.

  • Bilal

    I liked what I saw last night from him. He played well. Looked a bit hesistent on the PP, but hey, he’s a rookie, can’t expect him to play stellar in his first game. We actually dominated this game in terms of shots, but of course in hockey, one mistake can lead to a goal, and that happened last night. Im excited for tonight! GO CAPS

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Great skill, finesse, and intrigue, welcome Kuzya to the Greater Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. Wow that was a mouthful…

  • Nick

    So does anyone know when Grabo comes back?!

  • Pat Magee

    Seriously. How bright is our future? Burakovsky and Kuzya . Daggone it’s about time we have a bright spot!

  • Eddie

    He and the fourth line had a very exciting shift last night in, I think, the second period. No goals resulted, but they kept the puck in the offensive zone for a good long time and made things pretty awesome for a little while.

  • Myan

    The first crepe IS always an uneven oily mess…unless you’re Ovi and you knocked crepes suzette out of the park on the first try. 2 goals!!

  • Eric Schulz

    I think Penner works better on Ovie’s wing, with Kuznetsov on Grabovski’s along with Brouwer.

  • Eric Schulz

    I agree with your top-6, but Laich certainly hasn’t been a waste; he’s tallied points in 3 straight games, and he seems to be trending up, which is not all that unexpected as he gets healthier. If we are to make any noise, we’ll need a healthy Laich.
    I like MoJo, but I can’t comment on how he’s played lately, I haven’t really noticed him as much. But remember, Brouwer was having a pretty forgettable year until recently; MoJo might not be playing well, but he’s a good player (with the guys we have now though, with Kuznetsov and when Grabovski comes back, I think Johansson would make a nice 3rd line C).

  • Matt

    “If they* put me in the lineup”. Good interview. Like this kid a lot.

  • Bugs Fire

    Ovechkin scored every 29:23 this season. He recorded a shot every 3:54.

    Kuzya was on the ice for 10:22 total (and these are mostly 4th line minutes). 2 shots, no goals. Don’t worry, he is fine.