Watching Evgeny Kuznetsov
skate circles around the opposing goalie’s net without losing the puck or
getting touched by defenders as he dishes to Dmitry Orlov for the game winner against the Jets shows the wait
for his presence in the Caps lineup was worth it. Former General Manager George McPhee knew the skill Kuznetsov would bring
to the Caps. It makes the loss of Filip Forsberg, a bad and desperate GMGM
move, a tiny bit less painful. Also, Forsberg is a winger while Kuznetsov is
the second line center the Caps have needed since Alex Ovechkin entered the league ten years ago.
Kuznetsov’s first full season with the Caps came as Coach Barry Trotz installed his new
system and taught team accountability. It is probably a good thing that he did
not spend too much time in Washington before that. His full potential started
shining in the playoffs last season with his 5G-2A-7P and plus-14 in his 14
playoff games. This season he started as the Caps first line center, while NIcklas Backstrom recovered from
offseason hip surgery, in between Alex Ovechkin and new Capital, T. J. Oshie. Kuznetsov flourished on
the first line, capped by his 3 assist night in Calgary and 5 point night in
Edmonton within three days. He plays smart, poised hockey, beyond his 23-years.
In 23 games this season, Kuznetsov has 8G-18A-26P and is
plus-14. His 18 assists and 26 points puts him at 6th place in the
NHL, while his plus/minus is good for 4th. The other half of the Russian scoring
contest, Alex Ovechkin, in 22 games, has 12G-10A-22P and is plus-12, good for 5th
in the NHL with his goal scoring is also 5th in the NHL. Last season
in the playoffs, Ovie generated 5G-4A-9P, 2 assists better than Kuznetsov, but
was a minus-3. This contest should be fun to watch all season and Kuznetsov can
push Ovie. Ovie, the Capitals leading point generator throughout the majority of
his tenure, is currently behind his Russian teammate by four points. That
should keep Ovie focused and that can only be good for the Caps.
Throw in the offensive minded Russian defenseman, Dmitry
Orlov, part of the Russian troika, with Ovie and Kuznetsov, that won the overtime
versus the Florida Panthers on a Kuznetsov goal with assists from the other two,
and there is lots of scoring potential from the Russian Capitals. Let’s hope Russian
scoring continues, in droves, throughout the season, and way past April.
Let’s go Caps!
Labels: Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, NHL, Washington Capitals