evgeny-kuznetsov-mural

For five years, Evgeny Kuznetsov made a name for himself in Russia, dominating the KHL with his hometown team Traktor Chelyabinsk. Three NHL seasons later, Kuznetsov is fifth in scoring (66) and leads the Capitals in points. He even made his first NHL All-Star Game in 2015-16.

To honor Kuznetsov’s success, Bauer Russia painted a mural of Kuzy at their office in Riga Ice Land, an ice skating rink in Moscow. I know this because the hockey equipment manufacturer posted a photo of a tiny mite posing in front of it on Instagram.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Over the last weekend of January, Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov was in whirlwind he will never forget. When teammate Alex Ovechkin dropped out of the All-Star Game due to a lower-body injury, his open spot was given to another Russian-born superstar-in-the-making. Stars were aligned, plane tickets were purchased, and Kuznetsov made his way to Nashville to participate in his first All-Star Game.

It was Kuzy’s first ASG appearance (along with teammates and other first-timers Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom), but it’s unlikely it would be his last. Kuznetsov currently leads the NHL in primary assists (34) and has 58 points in 56 games played. He has shined in his role as a top-six forward, and has recently been promoted to the first line, playing next to Alex Ovechkin.

Earlier this month, Sport-Express’ Natalia Shmeleva spoke with Kuznetsov, touching on Barry Trotz’s contribution in Washington and how it feels to be on a winning team. Most notable, however, is Kuznetsov’s support of ASG underdog John Scott, who won the title of MVP in the game, recording two goals and an assist.

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In Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s  December article in the Players’ Tribune, we learned how he first fell in love with hockey, how YouTube influenced his game, and how different Russian hockey is from the NHL. But the part of that story that stood out most to us were Kuznetsov’s interactions with former Capitals forward Alex Semin.

Semin, we learned, used to live in an apartment above Kuznetsov’s hockey school and used to skate with the young Kuznetsov, eight years his junior. In the years since, Semin’s fondness for Kuznetsov has not waned.

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After Thursday’s game, the Washington Capitals announced that Alex Ovechkin would sit out this year’s All-Star Game due to a nagging lower-body injury. Barry Trotz said Ovechkin had been dealing with the issue since mid-November. Ovechkin joked that he aggravated the injury while clearing snow from his house.

If Ovechkin had been dealing with an injury, Ovechkin’s father Mikhail never knew about it.

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Last November, former Swedish Idol judge and hockey/media guy Daniel Breitholtz did a bit where Nicklas Backstrom literally tattooed his arm at a DC tattoo parlor for a video on Aftonbladet, Sweden’s biggest newspaper. For their next trick, Backstrom and Breitholtz teamed up to mess with Caps’ Swedes Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky.

The prank was pretty basic. Host Daniel Breitholtz is supposed to conduct a serious interview with Johansson and Burakovsky. But what they don’t know is Breitholtz is getting all of the questions from Caps center Nicklas Backstrom through his earpiece. Once Marcus is let in on the prank, they team up to continue the fun against a very confused Burakovsky.

There’s a reference to Swedes on bikes.

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Photo: Laughing Hyena Tattoos

Last Saturday, during the Capitals’ long break between games, center Nicklas Backstrom tattooed someone. And by tattooed I truly mean he permanently carved a message into someone’s body with needle and ink.

In a video published by Sweden’s biggest newspaper Aftonbladet, Backstrom tattoos the word Skön…t! onto former Swedish Idol judge and hockey/media guy Daniel Breitholtz.

According to Magnus Cadelin, the tattoo is inspired by a joke quote from Backstrom a decade ago.

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On March 19, 2009, Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season in a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ovechkin became the Capitals’ first ever three-time 50-goal scorer (which he has done three more times since), but it was what he did after the goal that became legend. To celebrate, Ovechkin dropped his stick to the ice and warmed his hands as if the stick were on fire.

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Photo: Geoff Burke

It has been a productive start of the season for Evgeny Kuznetsov. He has given his fans a team-leading 12 points, a hat trick, a highlight reel worth of spectacular moments of Harry Potter-worthy magic on the ice, and NHL Player of the Week awardnot to mention his remarkably improved command of English language.

What else could we hope for? Well, maybe a nice long interview in Kuzy’s native language. Lo and behold, we get exactly that courtesy of Aleksey Shevchenko of business-gazeta.ru (who may be more familiar to some of the readers as @Boogaard_2), which we are happy to bring to you in its entirety.

Kuznetsov talks about Barry Trotz’s “iron discipline,” how he deals with the media, and his struggles with changing diapers.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

During the Caps’ recent road trip through Canada, center Evgeny Kuznetsov did a Russian-language interview with Championat.com’s Alexander Govorov. Kuznetsov spoke about new linemate TJ Oshie, his favorite places in Canada to play, and how he got the nickname Harry Potter.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Photo: AP

Alex Ovechkin, 30, started today’s press conference with a question: “Where’s my happy birthday?” Eventually, he was asked about his birthday presents.

“In Moscow, they gave me a ship,” Ovechkin said, as reported by NHL.com’s Katie Brown. “It’s [at] my country house right now. It’s kind of funny.”

A ship is an extravagant gift. A ship isn’t necessarily funny. A ship is usually stored in the sea, not at country houses. This is confusing.

“I didn’t see [it yet],” Ovechkin continued. “I have a picture. A picture is one thing but to see in in real life is maybe a different thing.”

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