Photo: Bruce Bennett
Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, Evgeny Kuznetsov made some nice sauce, registering his league-leading 37th primary assist of the season on Alex Ovechkin’s OTGWG. The point was Kuznetsov’s 70th on the year, making him the 12th player in Caps history to register 20 goals and 50 assists in a season. Kuznetsov’s 70 points also leads the Capitals.
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.
Earlier this week, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz spoke to Igor Rabiner of Sports-Express about Kuznetsov’s growth as a player, and he revealed his master plan for turning Kuzy into the next Pavel Datsyuk.
Photo: Sanford Myers
In a month, the Washington Capitals will likely end the season as the NHL’s best team with a home-ice advantage through the Stanley Cup playoffs. One of the team’s biggest contributors is Nicklas Backstrom. Sunday, Expressen’s Magnus Nystrom released a long feature on the aforementioned Backstrom, featuring exclusive interviews with the Caps first-line center and his family.
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.
Magnus Cadelin has your translation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 award – not 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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