In the first half of the season, Evgeny Kuznetsov was a shadow of what he should have been. Learning to play a new position and adjusting to new tactics and a new language, Kuznetsov struggled. He sometimes looked lost in the new Caps system.
But in the last week Evgeny Kuznetsov has looked like a superstar in the making.
Behold these two passes authored by Kuzy in the second period.
On January 13, 2015, In Interview, By Chris Gordon
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Before this season, Evgeny Kuznetsov had only played sparingly at center in his hockey career. But with the Capitals lacking in center depth, head coach Barry Trotz has tried to convert Kuznetsov and fellow rookie Andre Burakovsky into pivots. Both struggled earlier in the year, with Burakovsky getting scratched and eventually moving back to wing. But Kuznetsov has stuck and is finally adjusting to the new role. Against the Avalanche on Monday night, Kuznetsov was an offensive force, with four shots on net, a shot off the crossbar, and a myriad of drives past the Colorado defense.
“He’s got really good vision, he’s got great hands, and he’s skating well,” Trotz said after the game. “I think his puck protection has been really good, his detail in the D-zone has been really good. You get chances, you’re gonna produce. I think he’s a very talented guy.”
Evgeny Kuznetsov played well against Toronto last week. Not one to let his friend get a big head, Russian comrade Alex Ovechkin, knocked him down a peg or two by pranking his post-game press conference. “You can’t speak English,” Ovechkin yelled, picked up by microphones.
Last night, Peter posted a funny photo of Evgeny Kuznetsovin his game recap. Kuzya’s face was ridiculous, so I made a four-panel zoom-in for our Twitter followers. As I began that process, I discovered something even more ridiculous.
Kuznetsov was wearing Mike Green’s helmet last night.
Team Russia put up a valiant effort but lost to Canada 5-4 in the World Junior Championship. Silver sucks, but they got an awesome consolation prize. The team stuck around for two days in Toronto and hung out with fellow countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov after the Caps’ morning skate Wednesday.
Earlier in the evening, I noticed that Evgeny Kuznetsovwas playing with more confidence. In the third period, Kuzy went from confident to downright cocky, as he passed a puck to Joel Wardthrough his legs.
The first half of the season was a struggle for Evgeny Kuznetsov. Lately though, we’ve been seeing some more confidence from Kuzy during even strength. Playing Toronto on Wednesday night, Kuznetsov skated nearly the length of the ice on a 2-on-4 attack before dishing to Marcus Johansson for a beautiful, one-timer goal.
Jack Hillencontinues to have the worst luck. In the second period, with the Caps up 1-0, the team gave up what might be the dumbest goal of the season. As Hillen and Mike Green went for a loose puck along the team’s offensive blue line, they collided hard. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov completed the hockey bowling metaphor by crashing on top their fallen bodies.