Here's Nikita as a sophomore when he played for the Norwich Cadets.
Photo by David Albers of naplenews.com
Here at RMNB, we love to write a lot about Alex Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, Alex Semin, Dmitri Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Stanislav Galiev, and Dmitri Kugryshev (did I forget anyone?), but we’ve overlooked the 8th (and the least-known) Russian in the Caps system, Nikita Kashirsky. Now that he has been officially invited to rookie camp to form another awesome trio of Russians, we’ll fix that immediately.
Kashirsky, 24, is a Muscovite (just like me Ovi). As a kid, he started playing hockey at Dynamo and was a left winger. In the past, when Ovechkin was asked about who his favorite line-mates were at the Dynamo school, Kashirsky’s was one of the first names he always mentioned.
“We grew up together,” Kashirsky said of his relationship with The Great 8 in an interview with Corey Masisak last year. “We played in Dynamo since we were 8 years old. We’ve been friends since then, I guess. We became really good friends around the age of 14 or 15. Since then we’ve always been really close. We come to each other’s house, spend the weekends and stuff. We’ve been like brothers since that time.”
It's hard not to love Braden Holtby and his black-rimmed glasses. (Photo Katie Stansbery)
Two Sundays ago, I went to the Hershey Bears/Adirondack Phantoms game where the Bears’ AHL Record Home winning streak ended at 24. There’ll be more on RMNB’s collective bad luck later. But one thing I learned that night is that Braden Holtby is a wildly popular man. Beyond Bruce Boudreau, there is no more popular guy in Hershey. Need examples? Well, while the Bears PA guy announced the starting line-up before the game, there was a smattering of applause for the starting 5. When the PA guy announced Holtby in goal, everyone in the arena rose to their feet and gave him a roaring standing ovation. I turned to my friends in complete shock and asked “Did that really just happen??”
Oh, it most certainly did. And really, there’s a lot to love about the guy (beyond his superb fashion sense and his excellent communication skills with the bewildering Alexander Semin). Holtby has put up incredible numbers in his first professional season in the Capitals’ minor league system. Braden started the year with the South Carolina Stingrays going 7-2-3 with a .911 Save Percentage. He then rode the pine as an injury replacement player in Washington for two games before getting his first shot to stick in Hershey. And stick he did. Since receiving that promotion, Holtby has gone 23-6-2 with 2 Shutouts for the AHL’s most winningest team. His sparkling 2.36 GAA and above average .917 Save Percentage are among AHL Leaders. And really, what has the Chocolate and White fans talking is the fact that Holtby has single-handedly won games this year by himself – even with the incredible roster around him. That has many in Hershey thinking he could eventually push his way into the discussion of who deserves to be the goalie of the future in Washington between Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth.
But if you’re looking for a statistical dissertation of who’s better among those three (SEMYON VARLAMOV), you’ve come to the wrong place my friends. Instead, RMNB has found another reason to fall in love with the twenty year old from Saskatoon: His eccentric “Holtbyisms.”
Don’t know what we’re talking about? We’ll let Bears regular Kathryn Hedrick explain: