Humble af Evgeny Kuznetsovspoke with SovSport’s Natalia Bragilevskaya after the Capitals closed out their first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday. He addressed a topic likely to dominate media conversations over the next week: the Caps’ past playoff failures. Many of those disappointments have come against the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom the Caps will face in the second round.
Kuznetsov wanted to get ahead of that talk now.
“You mention the previous century – but of those people, who is still playing?” Kuznetsov asks. “That’s history, nobody cares about it.”
“The guys in Pittsburgh are the same people – two legs, two arms, one head,” Kuznetsov added.
Monday night at Wells Fargo Center, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first goal in 22 games. It was a gift from the Hockey Gods. Kuznetsov scored after a Justin Williams dump-in took a strange bounce off the boards. The puck ricocheted to Kuznetsov, who was skating alone towards the front of the net. Using sublime patience, Kuznetsov tucked the puck past Steve Mason’s outstretched pad, giving the Caps a back-breaking 3-1 third period lead.
Several minutes later, Kuznetsov was on the ice when he saw his friend, Dmitry Orlov, get shoved headfirst into the boards by Pierre-Édouard Bellemare. As Orlov received medical attention on the bench, a Flyers fan threw a bracelet from the stands, striking Orly in the left cheek.
Monday night at Wells Fargo Center, Dmitry Orlov became the target of the Philadelphia Flyers’ rage, as Pierre-Édouard Bellemare sent the Caps defenseman headfirst into the boards. As Orlov received medical attention on the bench, a Flyers fan threw a bracelet from the stands, striking Orly in the left cheek. Although bloodied, Orlov remained in the game and later assisted on a power-play goal by Jay Beagle, making the final score 6-1.
In the second part of the interview, Kuznetsov speaks about his affinity for Barry Trotz.
“I don’t think this coach will allow us to relax,” Kuznetsov says of Trotz. “He straightens you out very quickly. And our team has character, we won’t let ourselves take it easy. We work hard every practice, not to mention the games. We are very comfortable within our team off ice, and everybody works hard in training.
Kuznetsov and Rabiner also talks about Ovechkin’s leadership inside the locker room.
Trotz touched on how Alex Ovechkin can hold onto his unique scoring touch — and if he does, get “very close” to Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record.
“Can he do it? Yes,” Trotz said. “But as he gets older, Alex will need to pay even more attention to every little hockey detail, starting with post-game recovery. But Ovechkin is a special athlete, an extraordinary talent. He has a gift from above to score goals.”
If the Chelyabinsk native ends the year on top, he would be the first Capital not named Ovechkin or Backstrom to lead the team in scoring since 2003-04 when Robert Lang put up 70 points. Kuznetsov’s dominant play this season is a far cry from his initial struggles during parts of his first two seasons in the league.
We learn that while Backstrom is stubborn, he’s also becoming even more comfortable as a leader — even with captain Alex Ovechkin.
“[Ovi’s] the guy I’ve yelled at the most,” Backstrom said to Nystrom, explaining the two teammates hold each other to a high standard. “We’ve played together every year I’ve been here, often on the same line and I’m the guy he’s yelled most at too. We’ve had real arguments on the bench where we have stood and barked at each other.”
Backstrom also shares his thoughts on his nightmare in Sochi, fighting his older brother in games, and his daughter Hayley.
“[She] is the best thing that happened to my life,” Backstrom said.