Early on Tuesday morning, Admiral, the eighth best team in the KHL’s Eastern Conference, defeated Amur 4-1. Admiral has now qualified for the KHL Playoffs. This also means that Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Traktor Chelyabinsk, who was the Eastern Conference Champions last season, will miss the playoffs entirely for the first time since 2010-11.
In KHL action on Saturday, Admiral jumped into the East’s final playoff spot with a 3-1 home win over Metallurg Novokuznetsk. On Sunday, Traktor Chelyabinsk, who still had control of their own destiny with a game in hand, had a chance to leapfrog Admiral if the could beat Torpedo.
Now that Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsovhas made it clear he’s coming to DC, the only question left is when. If his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, makes the playoffs, his journey to North America will be delayed.
On Friday morning, the picture became more clear as Traktor Chelyabinsk defeated Vityaz Chekhov, 3-2, two days after falling to defending champion Dynamo 5-3. Kuznetsov continued some great play, recording a “secondary” assist on (former Capital) Jan Bulis‘ first period goal. He also recorded two shots on goal and lost all three of his face-offs in 20:55 of ice time — most among any Traktor forward.
Washington Capitals top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to action following KHL Olympic break on Wednesday as Traktor Chelyabinsk faced reigning champions Dynamo Moscow in a Gagarin Cup re-match. Traktor, still battling for a postseason spot, gave the champions a battle but fell 5-3 in a high scoring affair.
Despite being one of the best players on the ice, Kuznetsov was unable to snap his goalless streak, now at 12 games (his last goal came on November 28th). But at least he keeps racking up the assists.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scores the shootout game-winner. (Photo: Metallurg Novokuznetsk)
Last Wednesday, Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov made a lot of Caps fans happy when he tweeted out his US visa application form. After three years of waiting, it seems Kuznetsov is finally ready to come to the NHL.
Caps fans, however, may have been the only ones happy about the tweet. A half an hour after publishing the photo, Kuznetsov deleted the tweet. We do not know why he took it down. It’s possible Traktor’s management and coaching staff had issues with their best player announcing his imminent departure while his team is still playing.
But fear not, the few and proud members of the Kuzya fan club. While your hero’s hockey career has taken a very circuitous path, Zhenya has been testing the waters in an alternative occupation while recovering from his latest injury. No, not driving a bulldozer, dabbling in real estate market, head-butting a sitcom character, or torturing an imaginary microphone with his interpretation of an old pop song. Kuzya is trying out a new hobby that’s a bit less exotic: TV hockey analyst. Last Sunday, Evgeny acted as color commentator for Chelyabinsk local channel OTV’s broadcast team during the 2nd and 3rd periods of Traktor’s game against the visiting Slovan of Bratislava. Kuznetsov shared with the TV audience a few bits of hockey wisdom and insider information from the team’s locker room. During intermission, Kuzya provided expert analysis of his team’s performance (“What did I like? That we scored two goals and did not allow any.”… “Who has been the standout so far? Our goalie and the defense. And all of our forwards.”) and made a prediction for the final period.
Traktor Chelyabinsk’s head coach Valery Belousov wasn’t very encouraging after the game, saying that Zhenya “hurt his shoulder a little.” Today, however, the news out of Chelyabinsk is a bit more reassuring, as reported by Yuriy Golyshak of Sport-Express and translated below.