The Washington Capitals started off their bye-week by getting into some car-related hijinks. On Sunday, Andre Burakovsky mistook a random stranger for an Uber-driver, but was delivered to his destination nonetheless.
Later that evening, Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, posted a video to his Instagram feed demonstrating some questionable driving practices with some even more questionable passengers.
The Washington Capitals put up a six spot on the Detroit Red Wings, Thursday night. But with a minute left, Evgeny Kuznetsov almost made it 7-3. After taking a centering pass from Dmitry Orlov, Kuznetsov deked and almost scored on Petr Mrazek.
But it’s what happened after that save that has everyone talking.
The Washington Capitals hosted Fatima Al Ali at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday. According to the AP’s Stephen Whyno, Al Ali called the experience the “best thing” to ever happen to her in her life.
Al Ali took the ice with the Capitals after practice, getting to learn from and play with her favorite hockey player, Alex Ovechkin. Her brother, Mohamed, joined her on the trip to DC and watched practice with her from the bench. He later joined the media on the ice and filmed her experience with the Caps on his phone.
Several other players including Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Justin Williams chatted with Al Ali on the ice and offered further tips on playing the game. Before heading back to the locker room, Ovechkin gave her a game-used stick and signed it for her. Evgeny Kuznetsov spent the latter half of the post-practice-play going one-on-one with Al Ali. They passed the puck and took shots every few passes before getting into a game of juggling the puck.
In December, Peter Bondra surprised UAE hockey player Fatima Al Ali with a free trip to Washington in honor of her unreal stickhandling skills. Fatima arrived in DC this past Sunday, and on Monday night, she sat courtside as the Wizards and Cavaliers went back and forth in the most entertaining regular-season basketball game of the season. Tuesday, her dream trip continued as she went to her first Caps game and met her favorite player, Alex Ovechkin, in the locker room.
Wednesday, things got even better. In front of a large throng of local and national media, Fatima took the ice with the team after Capitals practice.
Evgeny Kuznetsov was sensational last season, becoming the first player not named Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom to lead the Capitals in points in over a decade. But something seemed wrong at the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
In Kuznetsov’s first 23 games of the year, the Chelyabinsk native tallied only nine points – never quite looking like his previous self. Analysts wondered if Kuznetsov was in the throes of a sophomore slump, which was further exacerbated by his postseason performance the previous spring.
According to NHL.com, Kuznetsov had a “very serious” ankle injury.
Nicklas Backstrom might have been the first star, but Evgeny Kuznetsov also had himself a heck of a game during the Caps’ 5-3 victory over the Boston Bruins. (Let’s just ignore his 30% corsi, which I’m going to blame on Jay Beagle.)
In the third period, Kuznetsov took over and put the game out of reach for the Boston Bruins. 3:29 into the stanza, Kuzy authored a beautiful carry-in which led to a Brett Connolly goal. The tally put the Caps up 4-2. Later, Kuzy put the figurative cherry on top after scoring his 11th goal of the season.
He saluted the crowd after the goal.
Wednesday afternoon, Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was named the NHL’s first star of the month. Yes, you read that right. The NHL selected our very own Kuzy as the league’s best player for the first month of the year.
After a slow start, Kuznetsov has been sensational since the start of December. And in January, it’s like he got one of those Mario stars and began plowing through opposing teams like they’re goombas. Kuzy recorded seven goals, 13 assists, and 20 points in 15 games played. Kuznetsov had two points or more in nearly half of those games (7). Kuznetsov’s performance, along with the rest of his teammates (who could not stop scoring), helped power the Capitals to an impressive 12-2-1 record in January.
“We all play great,” Kuznetsov said. “Sometimes we get some points, some goals, but that’s work from all five guys on the ice. Award means a lot to my parents and my family.”
Last season, Evgeny Kuznetsov became the first player not named Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom to lead the team in points for over a decade. The start of the 2015-16 campaign was not as magical.
Kuznetsov endured long goalless streaks of 17 and 9 games. During the the first two months of the season, Kuzy managed only 9 points in 21 games.
But in December, something clicked. Kuznetsov has tallied 28 points in his last 26 games, which included the two goals he scored against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night.
The Washington Capitals are absolutely on fire, folks. After scoring seven goals against the Penguins Monday, the Caps went out and did it again against the St. Louis Blues.
Let me hit you up with some asinine stats. The Caps have scored five or more goals in eight of their last 11 games. They’ve also scored six or more goals in four of their last nine.
According to Tarik El-Bashir, 18 different Capitals have scored during the last 11 games. According to Ben Raby, the Caps have scored 25 times in the last four games and none of those tallies have come from Alex Ovechkin’s stick (6 assists).
Thursday in St. Louis, the Capitals chased goaltender Jake Allen twice. In the same game. Every Caps forward tallied a point by the second period.
I’m thinking this good luck can’t last forever so let’s enjoy this while it lasts. Here are all the Capitals goals from tonight.
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