Evgeny Kuznetsov

When a Caps Prospect goes above and beyond the call of duty, a one paragraph summary in Prospect Watch does not suffice. Today, we detail the fantastic first half of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s sophomore KHL season. Take it away, Fedor.

Kuznetsov raises his arms to Traktor fans during a post-game celebration routine. See our video below to see what we mean.

Kuznetsov gestures to Traktor fans during a post-game celebration. See the video below for more.

During the 2010 NHL Entry Draft on June 26th, General Manager George McPhee had his sights set on one player. In his eagerness, he even tried to trade away a prospect for a move up ten spots in the first round to get his man. That would prove to be unnecessary.

Evgeny Kuznetsov fell to the Caps at pick number 26. “We think he’s a very, very dynamic player,” McPhee said of Kuz at the time. “He can skate, he thinks the game well, he moves the puck, he really attacks the net.” Braden Holtby agrees.

Fast-forward five months. You’ll find the 18 year-old tearing up the KHL in only his second season. Since being put on the “Young Guns Line” with Andrei Popov (a Philadelphia Flyers ’06 draftee) and Anton Glinkin, Kuznetsov has found some serious chemistry with his linemates. He has four goals and two assists in six games since the EuroHockeyTour break ended on November 17th. His team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, has won five straight games.

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KHL-Vityaz-Chekhov-VS-Avangard-Omsk-691-Penalty-Minutes-January-2010

Russian fans are very, very passionate about hockey. If you need proof, look no further than the buildup for the upcoming KHL game between heated-rivals Avangard Omsk and Vityaz Chekhov. Avangard’s best player is former DC malcontent Jaromir Jagr, while Vityaz – known more for its boxing than hockey skill – has former Caps Brandon Sugden, Chris Simon, and Darcy Verot filling out their ranks.

The team’s beefs with each other have been simmering for a while now, stemming from one sad event. During the 2008-09 KHL season, Avangard’s Alexei Cherepanov passed out on the bench during a game against Vityaz in Chekhov. He later died. The cause of his death filled headlines in Russia for years, with both teams getting their fair share of the blame. Wikipedia’s wordy explanation is the most fair:

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Ovechkin Checks Fedorov

Alex Semin cries after receiving his silver medal.

Alex Semin cries after receiving his silver medal.

Today, Russia’s 27 game World Championships winning streak came to a devastating end in a post-olympic rematch against Jaromir Jagr’s Czech Republic team. And much like the match in the Olympics earlier in the year, the pivotal play of today’s World Championships gold medal game was a huge Alex Ovechkin hit. But this time, it was the Russian Machine accidentally laying out and injuring one of his own teammates, Sergei Fedorov (above), which led to Tomas Rolinek’s game winning goal in the second period. Riding stellar goaltending from Tomas Vokoun and an incredible team defense, the Czechs took a 2 goal lead into the third period that they would never relinquish. Our beloved Ruskies fall to the Czech Republic 2-1. Silver has never tasted so bitter.

Like one would expect, the Russians came out and played with fire. But much like the Canadiens/Capitals series, most of Russia’s chances came from the perimeter. And the Czechs waited and pounced on any mistakes Russia made. A sense of real urgency only revealed itself towards the end of the third period. And by then it was too late for Russia.

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KHL Team’s Fans Name Their Heroes From The Past Season

Everyone who follows the KHL knows that Vityaz Chekhov is the roughest team in the KHL. Former Hershey Bear Reid Simpson and Toronto Maple Leaf Nathan Perrott have played there. Former Washington Capitals Darcy Verot, Chris Simon and Brandon Sugden play there now. And for that Caps fan with an especially vivid memory, you may recall rumors during the past offeseason about Donald Brashear potentially signing with the club.

Well this season Vityaz participated in a superbrawl against Jaromir Jagr’s Avangard Omsk, where 840 PIM’s were awarded in this game. No, that’s not a typo. I’ll repeat, 840 PIM’s were awarded in that game. Somehow this talented group of testosterone-charged meatheads didn’t make the playoffs, so now it’s time to draw a proper conclusion. And their own Russian fans were kind enough to do it (with translated english captions). They created “cowards awards” for the worst teams and players in their opinion. Please watch the above video and find out who wins some tampons and the inglorious yellow underpants.

Tatiana Ovechkina: Time and Wins Heal All

Tatiana Ovechkina Sits With a Young Alex Ovechkin

Above Tatiana Ovechkina (left) sits with her son Alex (middle) many years ago.

Today, March 19th, is Tatiana Ovechkina’s 60th birthday. In celebration of the milestone, Soviet Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov phoned in from Russia to Alex Ovechkin’s home in DC and interviewed the Great Mother of the Great 8.

In the translated article below, Ovechkina discusses what she loves to cook for her sons, why she didn’t fly to Vancouver to watch Alex in the Olympic Games & if he’s completely gotten over the crushing loss to Canada.

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Alex Ovechkin in Win against The Czech Republic

Russia defeated the Czech Republic 4-2 today and it was Alex Ovechkin’s “Hit Heard ‘Round Vancouver” that forced the key turnover from Jaromir Jagr. That hit in fact led to the Game Winning Goal by Evgeni Malkin and millions of mouths – across the world – left agape in wild disbelief. So obviously, after Ovechkin’s Herculean Feat, the media was quite excited to talk to the Russian Machine. They had many things to ask. Sadly, he was not as excited to speak to them, much like the rest of the Russian Team. Can you say “Is Party Now?”

Via Greg Wyshynski on Twitter:

Ovie takes about a minute of Russian questions, and blows off. Ditto Malkin. Ditto 99% of the roster.

Well RMNB’s got Ivan Kalashnikov’s brief article from the Press Conference via Sports.ru:
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Alex Ovechkin Destroys Jaromir Jagr, Russia Wins 4-2

Clearly, Alex Ovechkin hasn’t had enough Big Hits in the Olympics yet. In the third period of a game that would allow the Russians to win their division over the Czech Republic, Alex Ovechkin completely laid out Jaromir Jagr which you can view in this animated gif found by Japers’ Rink. Not only that, the hit led to a 2 on 1 with Alex Semin and Evgeni Malkin. Alex Ovechkin then hustled back into the play drawing a defender, which gave Alex Semin enough room to needle a pass to Evgeni Malkin – who then managed to roof a bad angled shot past Tomas Vokoun. It gave the Russians a 3-1 lead over the Czechs at the time, and ended up being the Game Winning Goal. Russia wins 4-2. Ro-ssi-ya! Ro-ssi-ya!

Anyways, here’s what Travis Hughes of SB Nation’s Winter Olympics Blog had to say on the big hit.

Maybe Jaromir Jagr hasn’t dealt with the physical aspect of hockey much in the last two years. At the very least, he certainly didn’t look like he was ready for a Russian freight train to come rolling through his station.

CHOO CHOO!! Anyways we must extend a special thanks to the Russian Machine for letting out about 10 years of Caps Angst with that one hit. What a legendary play from a historic player. And what an appetizer for Super Sunday. Up next USA vs. Canada.

Alexander Ovechkin: Jagr Will Relive A Bit of the Past

Alex Ovechkin happy to be reunited with his countrymen. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

Alex Ovechkin + Olympics = Happy. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

Tonight, RMNB is pleased to present our first translated interview from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Earlier today, Sovsport.ru caught up with Alexander Ovechkin after Team Russia’s Morning Skate and posed The Great Eight questions about one of Russia’s biggest rivals in the Olympics: The Czech Republic and their enigmatic superstar Jaromir Jagr. Many people have been overlooking the Czechs in the Olympics, but don’t lump the Russian Machine into that group.

The Czech Republic has been a huge thorn in Team Russia’s side over the past decade. They beat the Russians 1-0 in 1998’s Nagano Winter Games to win Olympic Gold behind the stellar play of Dominik Hasek. And then they kicked the Ruskies completely off the podium in the 2006 Olympics, beating Team Russia 3-0 to win Bronze in Torino.

Below the jump, RMNB’s Fedor Fedin translates the interview between Ovechkin and Sovsport. Find out how Ovi compares himself to Jagr in his prime, what the Czech’s chances are to win the Olympics and his opinion on fellow Caps Tomas Fleischmann and Michal Neuvirth .

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Caps in Russia: Updates on Kozlov, Fedorov, Zednik, Jagr & More

Richard Zednik and Chris Simon chat during a KHL Game

We Miss You, Sergei.

We Miss You, Sergei.

We finally have another update from Fedor Fedin. It’s been awhile, but it’s for good reason. Since the KHL is about to wrap up the first half of it’s current season, we  gave Fedor the tall task of tracking down every KHL player with any Washington Capital ties and asked him to let us know how they’ve been doing – good or bad.  So basically if a guy has played for the Capitals in the past (Andrei Nikolishin), played on one of our AHL Affiliated Teams (Brandon Sugden), or been drafted by the team (Dmitri Orlov), they’re on the list.  We thought this was a good idea because we honestly miss some of our favorite erstwhile Caps from the past like: Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov, Richard Zednik, and Chris Simon, and thought this would be a great opportunity for everyone to get caught up.  Sadly, that human-ball-of-waste known as Jaromir Jagr is on the list, too, but since he’s one of Fedor’s favorite players on Avangard Omsk, we’re going to let it slide.

Anyways, below the fold is a huge table full of stats and information on all the Former Caps in the KHL.

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