Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Eventful Game Against Buffalo


Photo: Elsa

In Saturday’s 6-1 trouncing of the Sabres, Evgeny Kuznetsov caught my eye on a couple of goals. On the lone Sabres tally, Kuzy seemed confused on where he should be. On one Caps goal, Kuzy was instrumental in helping to end Brooks Laich’s long goal-less streak.

Before taking a look at the two plays, I’d caution against reaching grand conclusions on Kuznetsov’s game based off of any two plays, including these. But, Kuznetsov has been criticized for inconsistent play this season, and performances like the one detailed below are an example of what draws that criticism.

Here’s what Barry Trotz had to say about the rookie’s development this morning:

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Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

Saturday night, the Hershey Bears and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (the New York Islanders affiliate) played one of the most entertaining and violent American Hockey League games of the season. The Bears and Sound Tigers combined to score seven goals and earn nearly 200 penalty minutes. The game featured a chaotic line-brawl, a goalie fight, eight ejections, and 12 misconducts.

By now, you’ve probably already seen the video (taken by RMNB alumnus Kyle Mace) of Caps prospects Steve Oleksy, Connor Carrick, Chris Brown, Liam O’Brien, and the Bears’ goalie combatant, Pheonix Copley. By Sunday night, the video had amassed over 130,000 views.

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The Washington Capitals arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday ahead of their Sunday matinee with the Flyers. As of 11:30 PM, things in the team’s hotel were going fine.

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What Barry Trotz Doesn’t Want When the Caps Have a Lead

Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

There’s been a lot written about the Caps’ play with a lead lately both here and elsewhere. And then there were Barry Trotz’s postgame comments following the loss to the Oilers last week that left some people scratching their heads. It’s a popular topic for good reason. The Caps are fourth in the league in possession when trailing and ninth when tied, but they fall to 17th when they have a lead.

Trotz recently expanded on his thoughts on the team’s play with a lead to Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post.

“A good example of that was end of the second period. There’s 20 seconds left, just make a good play or get it out and don’t try to be too fine. That’s to me managing the game and managing the situation.”

Psssssst. Hey, Marcus Johansson. Your head coach is talking about you.

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How Will The KHL Get Through Russia’s Economic Crisis?


Sochi’s Olympic boss Dmitry Chernyshenko will face the hardest challenge in the KHL’s history in his first year as president. (Photo: Sergey Kuznetsov / RIA Novosti)

Russia’s financial crisis is in full throttle as the ruble fell below 65 to one dollar (as opposed to 33 one year ago), while Russia’s main export, oil, has fallen below 60 dollars per barrel for the first time since May 2009.

The changes in the economy will affect Russian hockey.

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On Tuesday night, as EPIX’s The Road To The Winter Classic began, the Caps began what became the longest shootout in NHL history. The scheduling conflict forced fans to make a difficult decision: reality TV or live hockey. For those who stuck with the live hockey, they got a shootout that went a record twenty rounds, five more than the previous record, which also belonged to the Caps. Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin actually shot twice in the losing effort.

Karl Alzner, Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Tom Wilson all got their first career shootout attempts in the same game.

With all the wackiness on the ice and the game determined not to end, the Caps turned to a late-game baseball tradition to influence the outcome: rally helmets.

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Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

Since turning pro, the career of Capitals 2010 third-round draft pick Stan Galiev hasn’t gone as expected. The dynamic winger struggled with system play and never found a role with the AHL’s Hershey Bears under coaches Mark French and Mike Haviland. He spent the majority of the last two seasons with Reading in the ECHL. Last year, injuries and scratches limited him to just 30 games between the AHL and ECHL.

Despite this stunning goal in the beginning of the season, 2014-15 started as more of the same for Galiev, who has been playing in North America since 2008. Galiev was scratched in five of seven games in the opening months. But now, it seems like we may actually see a breakout year for the Russian winger.

After scoring four goals in his first 44 career AHL games, Galiev has scored three in his last three, including a game-winner against St. John’s on Sunday. Those were the only goals Hershey scored those games.

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Solid positioning here (Photo: Alex Brandon)

Would you like to play a game? Let’s call it ‘Match the Goalie.’

Those of you who read the comments in my post yesterday, don’t ruin the answer I revealed there. For those of you comfortable navigating War on Ice, don’t cheat.

Since Braden Holtby made his NHL debut on October 5, 2010, 53 goalies have played 3000+ minutes, Holtby being one of them.

Here is a table of four goalies with their 5-on-5 save percentage and where it ranks among the 53.

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Photo: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov has struggled in both adjusting to the North American game and learning the center position. To hide his deficiencies, head coach Barry Trotz has limited Kuznetsov’s ice time, banishing him to the fourth line, and even scratching him for one game (which, let’s be honest, was painful to watch).

However, with Andre Burakovsky becoming strangely mortal lately, Trotz gave Kuznetsov a promotion to the second line against the Islanders.

Kuzya delivered in a big way.

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Twenty Games In: What is the Barry Trotz Breakout?


Photo: Amanda Bowen, RRBG Photography

We are a quarter of the way through the first season of the Barry Trotz era. The process has been solid, the results have been decent, and the lineup decisions have, at times, been confusing.

Trotz is the Caps’ fourth coach since 2011, so fans are well aware that a change in coach means a change in tactics. With that in mind, I’m going to take a look at the Caps’ breakout under Trotz.

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