Thursday was the NHL’s media day for the World Cup of Hockey and all nine participating Capitals players made appearances in Toronto.
After Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov conducted their press conferences, they wandered over to the World Cup of Hockey store. I am happy to report it was a fun trip.
Evgeny Kuznetsov was demoted from first-line center to a fourth-line winger ahead of Russia’s final World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game against Canada, Wednesday.
“That’s because he went to Oleg Valerievich [Znarok] and said he doesn’t want to play on the line with Ovechkin and Kucherov anymore,” Ovechkin deadpanned while speaking with Pavel Lysenkov after practice. “I am still in shock.”
“And they moved me to the 4th line!,” a laughing Kuznetsov replied.
On Sunday, Team Russia arrived at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ practice facility in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, to train for several days ahead of their game Thursday against Team Canada.
The bizarreness of the situation was not lost on Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov, whose Caps team was eliminated by rival Pittsburgh during the 2015-16 playoffs. While the teammates practiced, there was a giant Mario Lemieux banner hanging at the south end of the rink. According to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir, Ovechkin’s temporary locker was placed right beside where Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby normally dresses too.
Thursday, Team Russia hosted the Czech Republic at St. Petersberg’s Yubileyny Arena. It was the first time the Caps troika of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov had played an organized game since winning a bronze medal in the 2016 World Championship on May 22.
After falling behind early, Russia took a commanding lead before needing a ridiculous split save from Sergei Bobrovski in the final minute to hold onto the 4-3 win. Dmitry Orlov tallied a secondary assist while Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov went scoreless.
Washington Capitals teammates Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov return to the ice at 12:30pm today, as Russia takes on the Czech Republic for their first World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game.
Beforehand, Ovechkin and Kuznetsov continued their Caps pre-game tradition of playing a round of sewer ball. The Russian national team Twitter account has your photos.
Monday, Team Russia held their first official practice for the World Cup of Hockey and I’ve got some great news. Washington Capitals brothers from another mother Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin have been paired together on the first line along with Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov.
Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov is also on Russia’s first defense pairing.
Ahead of the World Cup of Hockey, the Russian national team has been practicing together in St. Petersburg. On Thursday, Alex Ovechkin participated in Knowledge Day ceremonies, welcoming children back to school. Today, in that same vein, the Russian machine joined Evgeny Kuznetsov and Evgeni Malkin out on the ice to play hockey against children during the first intermission of the SKA/Lada Togliatti game.
The Russian superstars were dressed — I’m serious — as mascots.
The EA Sports NHL video game series that has cost me countless dollars in college dorm room bets has slowly been releasing their 2017 player ratings for the past few weeks. The Capitals have made out pretty well after their 2015-16 President’s Trophy-winning season as they are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks with the most players rated in the top 50 with five.
Capitals teammates Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov spent Thursday together in Russia supporting friend and former Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk, who retired from the NHL over the summer, played his first home game for SKA St. Petersburg.
It took just 38 seconds for him to score.
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