Evgeny Kuznetsov Gold Medal

Despite winning gold at the World Junior Championships and putting up one of the best years ever recorded by a 18-year-old in Russia, Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov spent most of last year playing through pain. The reason? A nagging shoulder injury that never completely healed after offseason surgery.

So Kuznetsov, who revealed to reporters in December that he struggled doing push-ups, flew back to Germany and went under the knife again in April. Thirteen and a half weeks later — with a renegotiated contract with Traktor and wife in hand – Kuznetsov seems optimistic of a full recovery.

Sport.ru’s Andrey Osadchenko recently spoke with the now 19-year-old and the two discussed a variety of topics. Most notably for Caps fans, Kuznetsov said that he has been looking at real estate in the D.C. area and plans to play for the Capitals in 2012-13.

Below, RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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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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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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For those who missed Thursday’s Russia/Canada game at the World Championships, here’s two videos of major interest via our great friend Dmitry who some of you may know as R17a on twitter:

The Brooks Laich Bodycheck on Alex Ovechkin That Started a Brawl

Sergei Fedorov’s Second Career Fight Against Steve Downie

God, I hate Downie.

alex-ovechkin-scores-in-world-championships-and-is-happy

Dear God, the Russian Machine does bleed red blood like the rest of us.

Dear God, the Russian Machine does bleed red blood like the rest of us.

The wounds from the Caps’ round-one playoff loss are still raw, but we are on the mend.  The downtrodden leader of the Caps’, Alex Ovechkin, has linked up with his countrymen to mend some of those wounds.  The world championships began this weekend in Cologne, Germany, reuniting Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, and Alex Semin with their former teammates, Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov.  Today’s match found the Capitals Russians facing off against the Slovakians, coached by former Caps benchmaster, Glen Hanlon.

The Russian goalie,  massive Vasili Kosechkin, did not face a flurry of pucks until late in the second period.  When the Slovaks finally mounted their offensive attacks, a sneaky wrister from former Capitals farmhand Ivan Majesky threatened to start a scoring spree.  The Russians managed to hold off the Slovaks’ recovery, earning them a first round win– Alex Ovechkin’s first in four games.

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Viktor Fedorov: “The Caps Didn’t Have a Good Centerman”

Sergei Fedorov's Dad Victor, sits with Alex Ovechkin at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics

Viktor Fedorov, a honoured Coach of Russia and the father of Future Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov, recently sat down with Russian Sports Radio and explained his reasons for why he thought the Capitals failed in the first round of the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens. Lucky for us, Sports.ru transcribed the interview and our own Fedor Fedin translated it. Let us know what you think of his opinions in the comments below!

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Russian Players, Coaches & Analysts On The Loss To Canada

Why Did Russia Fail In The Olympics?

Here are some reflections of the Canada and Russia game in the words of players, coaches and famous analysts back home in Russia. All quotes were translated by Fedor Fedin and pulled from interviews by “Soviet Sport,” “Sport-Express,” & “Sports Day By Day.”

Vyacheslav Bykov, Russian Head Coach:

“You can’t “order” the result. It’s a sport. We were in a situation where we met one of the best teams in the world in the quarterfinal and couldn’t win. What will be the consequence? I don’t know. I think, our successors will give a balanced grade for this. I don’t think that the decision to start Nabokov was a mistake. All the players of the Canadian team put very big pressure on us and we had to get out together. With Zhenya. [Ed. Note - Zhenya - short form of Evgeny]. [...]

All teams had the same conditions and I think that now it doesn’t make any sense if we blame tournament system. It’s hard to say, did additional game against Germany help the Canadian team? Anyways, I have never seen a team who ran 60 minutes without a break. Everyone wanted to see the Crosby / Ovechkin duel. Everyone made a hullabaloo about it, but the match is the game between teams. We tried different lines but the pressure by the four Canadian lines were much higher than ours”.

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What Went Wrong With Team Russia?

Alex Ovechkin and his friends have left Vancouver by now, and surely that’s a good thing. For the greatest conglomeration of hockey talent we may ever see, Team Russia played like amateurs. The 2010 Men’s Olympic hockey tournament was a disaster for the Russians, and that comes as a surprise to many of us. But why did the Russian Machine break? (Did you really think we’d let that go?)

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Russian Lessons Part III: Who Is The Most Popular Hockey Player In Russia?

[Ed Note: First, RMNB taught you how to correctly pronounce the names of some of Russia's Best Hockey Players. Second, RMNB taught you how to support the Russian National Team in Vancouver with Authentic Russian Fan Chants and Cheers. Tonight, In Russian Lessons Part III, we're here to teach you who the most popular, active hockey players in Russia are.

With NHL Games starting at 3am or later in Russia and the KHL starting to find more and more traction, we were interested who Russians talked about and followed the most. Would it be an NHL Player? Would it be a KHL Player? We felt this post was necessary because the media coverage in Washington makes a lot of people assume Alex Ovechkin is the most revered sportsman in the country. He has a huge following - to the point where he's been on Game Shows and in Music Videos - but you'll be surprised by what we found today. They're all yours Fedor.]

Okay, I bet if you had to pick one person to be the most popular hockey player in Russia, you’d pick Alex Ovechkin. This is a great guess, but it’s not 100% true. Let’s check what hockey players Russian users search for the most using the Russian Search Engine “Yandex.” It is the most used Search Engine (51% of search market) in our country.

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Russian Lessons Part I: Learn To Say Ovechkin Correctly

Russian Lessons Part I - Learn To Say Ovechkin Correctly

[Ed Note: Last year during the Capitals Playoff run, Slava Malamud wrote an 800-word post about how to pronounce Russian Players names correctly for Capitals Insider. Problem was - after talking to RMNB groupmember Fedor Fedin (who resides in Moscow, Russia) - Slava wasn't really doing the pronunciations justice. So today, with Fedor's help, the Russian Machine is going to teach you how to say your favorite Russian Superstars names correctly. And yes, with wonderful, wonderful audio. Enjoy!]

One of the most frustrating things about being a fan of the Washington Capitals in Moscow is how much Americans mispronounce Russian Players’ names. Everybody does it! And a lot of the time, nobody has a clue they’re even doing it.

Do you know how many times I’ve heard «S-I-M-I-N» or «S-E-M-Y-O-N», and cringed? Let’s say more than a handful. But now it’s time for you to learn with my help.

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