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.
The Washington Capitals held an optional practice in front of a full house, Saturday. Half the team, including Head Coach Barry Trotz, was not on the ice. Everyone was energized and in high spirits from the 6-0 shutout against the Chicago Blackhawks the night before.
Instead of a puck, Daniel Winnik started the warm-up with a perforated practice golf ball. Later Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt shared a silly moment after Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov put a shot past the netminder. Holtbeast playfully slashed Schmidt’s legs, whose dramatics ensued for a fun set of images. Holtby’s face after his payback was priceless.
Post-practice Matt Niskanen even tried to hide from the camera and we shared a laugh. It was a great welcome back to the hockey grind. Enjoy these snaps from the morning practice.
When Braden Holtby’s shutout streak ended at a nice total of 169 minutes, the Capitals suddenly found themselves in a tie game.
“Don’t worry,” Evgeny Kuznetsov probably said, “I’ve got this.”
“But Kuzy,” Brooks Orpik probably said, “you never score anymore.”
Then Kuznetsov spit into the ice, grinned, and said, “watch this.”
So watch this.
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