Evgeny Kuznetsov just authored one of the most beautiful assists of the season. As he skated around the Bruins’ net, Kuznetsov threw a no-look pass behind-his-body to Marcus Johansson, crashing the net. Tuukka Rask, who was following Kuznetsov around the net, was caught off guard by the play, and Joe Hanson tapped the puck home for his 20th goal of the season– a career high.
Last night, the Washington Capitals found out that they had earned a playoff spot while flying back to DC from Detroit. According to the Caps’ Mike Vogel, there was a “loud cheer on the plane as [the] boys learned the news.”
If that wasn’t endearing enough, the Caps took a ridiculous celebration picture as Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alex Ovechkin emerged from the plane. They smiled for the camera flailing their arms like it was an R. Kelly video.
Ovechkin didn’t stop there. Not even a little.
Soccer legend Lionel Messi and the Argentinian national soccer team are in Washington DC this week for a friendly against El Salvador on Saturday.
After taking in a Wizards game earlier in the week, Messi met with Alex Ovechkin— one of Messi’s biggest fans– to exchange jerseys. Ovi totally fanboyed.
Photo: Alex Brandon
10:45 AM Update: 12 hours later, the NHL has finally credited Kuznetsov with the goal.
SCORING CHANGE: The #Caps overtime goal in last night's game against the New Jersey Devils has been credited to Evgeny Kuznetsov.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 27, 2015
If you ever wanted to understand how far Evgeny Kuznetsov has come as a hockey player, his game-winning goal against the Devils– and the seconds before that– are all you need to see.
On Monday, Evgeny Kuznetsov did a Russian language interview with Sport FM radio host Vladimir Dekhtyarev. Kuznetsov gabbed about his season to date and explained what it has been like playing under Barry Trotz.
“His plan was easy to understand,” Kuznetsov said, as translated by Fedor Fedin. “It was hard though to do all the little things that he demands, everything, even what side to place the stick on. Nothing escapes his attention. He watches very carefully and it was tough to change early on.”
The interview even features a cameo by Dmitry Orlov who started talking while in the car. Check it out.
On Saturday, while taking part in an autograph signing in Laurel, Troy Brouwer made some news. Talking to the DC Sports Bog’s Ben Sumner, Brouwer revealed that Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s wife Nastia is pregnant.
Monday night, Evgeny Kuznetsov continued his recent strong play. The 22-year-old Russian scored his eighth goal of the season in the third period and scored the game-deciding tally in the shootout.
His regulation goal was amazing.
During Wednesday’s practice, the Capitals welcomed a fourth Russian onto the ice. Four-year-old Maxim Goloschapov was flown from Moscow to Kettler Capitals Iceplex because he won a promotional campaign held by Bauer Russia.
A few months ago, Bauer asked their followers to “show us your hardest shot by putting it on Instagram with the hashtag #MX3Russia. The winner gets to go to Washington to meet Alex Ovechkin.” Teeny tiny Maxim won with these two videos.
In Saturday’s 6-1 trouncing of the Sabres, Evgeny Kuznetsov caught my eye on a couple of goals. On the lone Sabres tally, Kuzy seemed confused on where he should be. On one Caps goal, Kuzy was instrumental in helping to end Brooks Laich’s long goal-less streak.
Before taking a look at the two plays, I’d caution against reaching grand conclusions on Kuznetsov’s game based off of any two plays, including these. But, Kuznetsov has been criticized for inconsistent play this season, and performances like the one detailed below are an example of what draws that criticism.
Here’s what Barry Trotz had to say about the rookie’s development this morning:
With just a few days left before a trade deadline, managers around the NHL are comparing their teams to the rest of the league and looking for the pieces needed for a playoff run. With the new playoff format, it’s especially important to overmatch the division rivals you are likely to face early in the postseason.
The Caps, despite sitting just fourth in the Metropolitan division, keep up with the teams above them in most statistical categories. But there is one area in which they are struggling: the second line.