Photo: Jonathan Daniel
During the Caps’ West Coast road swing earlier this month, center Evgeny Kuznetsov met up with Igor Rabiner of Sport-Express. Their conversation was fascinating.
Kuznetsov speaks about his ‘close’ friendship with Alex Ovechkin, how the team celebrated Ovi’s 500th goal, and if it’s important to him to be the top-scoring Russian in the NHL. Hint: it’s not.
“Maybe getting points is nice, but I would gladly trade them all for a chance to play in the Stanley Cup final,” Kuznetsov said. “And I believe any player would say the same. Honestly.”
Kuznetsov and Rabiner also spoke about Ovechkin’s prediction that his protege will one day score 40 goals in the NHL.
Igor Kleyner has your translation.
The Caps leading point-producer, Evgeny Kuznetsov, had another one of those nights. The 23-year-old Chelyabinsk native was magical with the puck, tallying his fourth three-assist game and his eighth three-point game of the season.
Kuznetsov used an unreal slap pass to Daniel Winnik to help the former Leaf tally his first goal with the Capitals. Later in the second period, Kuzy did The Kuzy Pass From The Kuzy Spot, leading to a TJ Oshie goal. Finally, early in the third period, Kuznetsov showed his poise, gathering in a loose puck near the boards and finding Andre Burakovsky wide open in front of the net.
All three assists were primary assists. And all three passes showed off Kuznetsov’s world-class talent. Just don’t tell that to him.
“It’s lucky play again,” Kuznetsov sheepishly said of his twisting, against-the-grain pass to Oshie.
“That’s just luck?” a reporter asked.
“Yeah, of course,” Kuznetsov replied.
Kuznetsov’s teammates were a bit less timid.
When Daniel Winnik got traded to the Washington Capitals late last month, we figured the grinding forward would get an offensive boost playing with DC’s high end talent. We just didn’t realize how easy they would make it for him.
With the Capitals trailing 1-0, Winnik jumped on the ice in the waning seconds of a Capitals power play. Braden Holtby and Evgeny Kuznetsov, however, weren’t quite done with their work on the man-advantage. Despite the seconds ticking down, Holtby fed Kuznetsov puck the puck in the Capitals’ zone off off a brilliant, high-flying breakout pass that easily found the Russian forward.
“That’s something we try to do in the past, usually at the end of the power play when you’re not worried about changing or anything like that,” Holtby said of the play. “You’re trying to get it into their zone at the end of the power play. You know Kuzy’s gonna make those reads. He read it well.”
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.
A few weeks ago, RMNB’s Chris Gordon asked Evgeny Kuznetsov about his finger twirl celebration.
“That’s not for you, you know,” Kuznetsov said to Gordon when asked what the inspiration of the celebration was. “You don’t have to know that.”
Kuznetsov said it was a secret, but recently RMNB reader Chris S. (@theSTOEHR) found something that could give us context.
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