Thursday, December 31, 2015

Evgeny Kuznetsov Wrote for the Player's Tribune

"How much I do I love hockey? I can’t even describe ... In my hometown of Chelyabinsk, hockey is religion. Only one sport: hockey."
Growing up in Russia, Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov was so obsessed with hockey that he would dread the few days around New Years when the rink was closed. In The Players' Tribune, Kuznetsov opens up about the nuances of Russian hockey school, playing with Alexander Ovechkin and why you never, ever dump the puck in the KHL

Read Kuznetsov's article on The Player's Tribune.

Since I can't quote Kuznetsov's article in here, I would like to link it:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Artemi Panarin Featured in NHL Top Duos List (THW)

The Hockey Writers decided to make a list of the NHL's five duos, and (yay!) Artemi Panarin and Evgeny Kuznetsov are both featured in the list. It is as goes (and I will add my own opinions as to why these players are featured in the list if needed):

5. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens)
There is a reason Pacioretty was picked as the Habs' captain this year, and it has not been without the help of his trusty steed, the 33-year-old Czech forward Tomas Plekanec. They provide dynamic offence to the Habs, adding to their legitimacy as Stanley Cup contenders.

4. Henrik and Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
Ahh... of course. The 35-year-old Swedish twins who have been tearing up the NHL for years. They have an impressive chemistry.. almost a sense of where the other is on the ice. Must be a twin thing.

3. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals)
Two Russians (insert happy emoji here). Of course. This year, Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the Caps with points, with Alex Ovechkin, the goals leader, a few points behind. At the beginning of the year, on the same line, they clicked together perfectly. #RusskiyPower 

2. Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
One of the interesting stories in the NHL this season is how Patrick Kane has been tearing up the NHL after his off-season controversy. Of course, this wouldn't be the case without the hands of Artemi Panarin, 24-year-old fresh arrival from Russian KHL, who has helped him tonnes.

1. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars)
This duo has always been one of the most effective in the game, but their role on the Stars has only been magnified now that their team is in the top of the NHL standings.

What do you all think of these ratings? Any other differing opinions? If so, I'd love to hear them in the comments. Happy Holidays...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pavel Bure Thinks Evgeny Kuznetsov and Artemi Panarin Will Dominate the NHL for Years to Come

Pavel Bure, in his blog, said that have the ability to dominate the NHL for years to come. Bure is arguably one of the best Russian players to ever play the game, and hearing so from him is a huge compliment to both Kuznetsov, 23, and Panarin, 24. 

In his first season with the Washington Capitals, Kuznetsov had a hard time adjusting to the North American lifestyle, but in the 2015 playoffs, he soared above expectations, scoring the series-winning goal against the Islanders to take the Capitals to Round 2 of the playoffs. This season, he leads the Caps in points - even more than the Capitals other superstar, Alex Ovechkin. "It took a little while for Kuznetsov to adjust in the country and in a League that was completely new to him," Bure writes. "But he was a leader everywhere he had ever played. So eventually he adapted to the system Trotz implemented in Washington. He was also lucky to be on the same team with Alex Ovechkin, who should get credit for helping him find his game."

Artemi Panarin, on the other hand, came over to the NHL from the KHL last year, and has had some amazing chemistry with linemate Patrick Kane. He is also in early contention for the Calder Trophy. "Panarin made the transition to the team that won three Stanley Cups in six seasons look effortless," Bure writes. "This alone shows what a special talent he is. Plus, the style of hockey that the Blackhawks play is tailor-made for Panarin. It is not surprising that he leads all rookies in scoring and is capable of winning the Calder Trophy this year."

"I am happy for Panarin and Kuznetsov," Bure further said. "They both dreamed about making it in the NHL and they have done very well thus far, but at the same time both of them are still continuing to develop. It may sound crazy, but I know those two guys can play even better. They possess enough skills to become a dominating force in this League."

Friday, December 11, 2015

Alex Semin Joins Metallurg Magnitogorsk


Yesterday, the Montreal Canadiens placed Alex Semin on waivers, then cleared and sent him to their AHL team, St. John's IceCaps, but Semin failed to report. Semin then took his choice and decided to go to Russia to join in the KHL.

Reportedly, SKA St. Petersburg and Metallurg Magnitogorsk were interested in Semin's services, but Semin chose Metallurg over SKA. 

Alex Semin had one goal and four points in fifteen games with the Canadiens, and he was often a scratch on the bench; he sat out for eight games. He hasn't had a good season since leaving the Capitals in 2012. Semin scored 239 goals and 517 points in 650 games with the Capitals, Hurricanes and Canadiens.

In Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Semin will join NHL counterparts Wojtek Wolski and Oskar Osala, as well as Capitals first-round draft pick Ilya Samsonov. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

How Did Russian Hockey Stars Learn to Play?

After the Soviet union collapsed, the sport of hockey was lost to Russia. Then, Team Russia won the World Championship in 2008, and, once again, children were now following in the footsteps of Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, Artemi Panarin, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Hockey was the most popular sport in the Soviet Union. Everyone wanted to be like the legendary Soviet team, and parents wished their children would follow in the footsteps of Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, and their teammates. Starting from the first win in 1954 to 1991 when the U.S.S.R. collapsed, when there were hockey championships, the entire Soviet nations would have their ears glued to the radio or their eyes glued to the TV, anticipating the result. It seemed as if the U.S.S.R. never stepped down from the podium in hockey during these years. 

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it seemed as if hockey was lost to these nations. From 1993 to 2008, it seemed as if Russia or any of the former Soviet nations could never win a single championship. What had once been the best nation (?) in hockey was now equal to teams below the top five. Team Russia and the rest of the former Soviet nations were suffering embarrassing losses to other team.

Then, in 2008, a new crop of youngsters was rising in Russia. Having gotten just enough experience playing in the NHL, youngsters like Alex Ovechkin, Alex Radulov, and Ilya Kovalchuk, along with veterans like Evgeni Nabokov and Sergei Fedorov, produced the best Russian team since 1993. Suddenly, Russia was centre stage in the World Hockey Championships and they ended up winning the gold. Not just that, but in the same year, the Russian Superleague folded and made way for a new league, the KHL. Interest in hockey came back to life, and now, parents wanted their children to follow the footsteps of Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Malkin, and Bobrovsky. 

Now Russia had to find a way to get enough ice rinks and youth leagues for children to play in, There were only about 30 rinks in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities, not enough to house the growing number of children wanting to play hockey. 

Today, Russia still needs to tackle these challenges. There are teams with 22 children who rarely have more than one coach, and he struggles to give each child enough ice time. If Russia wants to become a superior hockey nation once more, there are challenges it needs to tackle ahead. 

Nowadays, Russian hockey schools accept children at the age of 4 or 5. These kids have 45-minute training session twice or three times a week. Other than these sessions, they attend individual lessons, where they practise specific techniques, such as skating and stickhandling. Then, when they are 10, they start training daily, and at 12, they train on-ice twice a day.At 16, players can graduate from these schools and sign with a professional team, but the best players are allowed to do so at 13 or 14.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sergei Gonchar Gives His Opinion on Best Russian NHL Players

After Alex Ovechkin broke Sergei Fedorov's Russian scoring NHL record, Sergei Gonchar who played on the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, to name a few teams, was asked about who he thought were the best NHL Russians, and his answers were quite true.
However, Gonchar couldn't put a definite ranking; he just picked a group of players whom he thought were the best Russians in the  NHL. "I don't think it's fair to rank them, they're all great players from different times, we haven't seen all these guys play. I don't think it's right to rank them," said Gonchar.
Unfortunately, since in Soviet times they couldn't play in the NHL, there is still many Russians who were greats, but have gone unnoticed because of that, so Gonchar tried to include them too.
Here is his list in no particular order:

Sergei Fedorov: all-time NHL points leader among Russian-born skaters with 1,179 (483 goals, 696 assists) in 1,248 games, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last month
"A great two-way player, in my opinion he was the best skater in the world during his time. He even played defense at times, such a unique player. He had a great combination of defensive and offensive skill." says Gonchar.

Valeri Kharlamov: Inducted in the HHOF in 2005, 1970s superstar
"It's not a secret, he's one of the best to ever play the game. He not only scored goals but he made it look easy, with so much finesse."

Alex Ovechkin: "His style of the game, you never think of a Russian player playing that style. He's probably the only guy in the history of our game in Russia to be so physical as a forward and shoot the puck so much like that. That type of player isn't what we're used to producing in our system. Now maybe we'll have young players come up like because of him. But we've never had a player in our country's history play the game like him. And Alex is still young, he'll make those career numbers even greater."

Vladislav Tretiak: Inducted in the HHOF in 1989, remembered by the Canadians for '72 Summit Series
"I wish he had played a bit longer, he was such a great goalie, I've seen some of his games on tape. He's definitely the best Russian goalie ever, in my opinion."

Slava Fetisov: Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, best Russian defenceman of his time
"He's the guy who changed the game for Russian defensemen. Sort of like what Bobby Orr did for Canada. Slava jumped into the play, he created offense. His legacy aside from his great career is that he changed the position for Russian defensemen."

Sergei Makarov: Part of the K-L-M line from the 1980s, nine-time Soviet League leading scorer, came to NHL at age 31 and played 400-plus games
"I had a chance to see him play live, he's one of the best one-on-one players I've seen, could protect the puck like nobody else. Not a big guy, but the way he did things out there, he's definitely a top-five Russian player ever, for me. Unfortunately he didn't play that many years here, I wish he had played in the NHL in his prime."

Anatoli Firsov:  Soviet star in the 1960s and early '70s, considered by some the best Russian forward ever, but exposure to West was limited because of the Iron Curtain
"I heard about him growing up, he was a great player from what I know, unfortunately I never got to see him play."

Boris Mikhailov: Played right wing on the '70s line with Vladimir Petrov and Kharlamov,two-time Olympic and eight-time world champion.
"I saw some of his games, not a flashy player, not a guy that will undress you or make a move that everyone will talk about, but he's the guy scoring all the goals. He stood in front of the net and put in all the rebounds. He was willing to go through all those cross-checks to stand there, a lot of respect for him back home for sure. He was a great leader, too."

Pavel Bure: Inducted in the HHOF in 2012, five 50-goal plus seasons, back-to-back 60-goal campaigns with the Vancouver Canucks in the early '90s.
"Pavel was one of the fastest guys to ever play the game. A lot of highlight goals. I played with him in a few tournaments at the international level. He played so well in Nagano, I remember him scoring five goals against Finland in the Olympic semifinals. Such a natural goal scorer with unbelievable speed and a great shot."

Valeri Vasiliev: longtime captain of the national team in the 1970s, one of the meanest and most physical blueliners of his era
"He was a mean player, one of those guys who always stuck up for his teammates. Very tough guy. I have a lot of respect for that guy. He wasn't scared of anyone."

Evgeni Malkin: "He's still got a lot of years in front of him, but I think we already recognize that in modern hockey he's still one of the guys who can control the game by himself; he can slow down the pace of a game, he can do things in full stride, and believe me there are few guys left who can do it. His ability to protect the puck, to slow down, then accelerate, and take advantage of guys standing still, it's a very special talent."

Igor Larionov: Inducted into the Hall in 2008, centered the famed K-L-M line.
"He's one of the smartest hockey players I've seen, always in the right position, always sees the ice well, read the game so well. It's not a coincidence they called him the Professor. Very few players could play his style. The way he played was something special. He was always thinking one step ahead of everybody."

Alexei Kasatonov: played in four Canada Cups.
"I remember watching him play at home and here. He was in Slava's shadow for many years but definitely a great player in his own right."

Alexander Yakushev: scored seven goals in the '72 Summit Series, star of the '70s era.
"Everyone respected him. He never played for Red Army, so didn't play on the best team. But he competed and put up great numbers. He did a great job internationally, played really well in those Super Series against North American teams.''

Vsevolod Bobrov: Denis Gibbons for The Hockey News back in 2012 said: "The first great Russian star, Bobrov captained both the national hockey and soccer teams of the Soviet Union in the 1950s. He was a daring attacker who played the individual-style Canadian game and could easily switch the stick from his left hand to his right while beating a defender."
"I heard so much about him, obviously never saw him play. He also was very good in soccer. He's one of the reasons people played hockey in my country, because of the way he played and the way he scored goals. Because for us, hockey is a relatively new sport compared to Canada. He was the guy that played so well early on that people were coming to watch him."

Pavel Datsyuk: crazy dangler with the puck, the most underrated superstar in the NHL.
"The way he plays, how hard he plays defensively, and how good he is offensively with all his moves and passing ability, I'm not sure Russia has ever had a player quite like him. He's a great combination of playing defense on such a high level and offense on such a high level, so rare in Russian hockey history. Maybe the closest guy was Sergei Fedorov, he had the same kind of mentality. In my books, Pavel is No. 1 though, I don't think there's ever been a combination like that of his defensive instincts and offensive abilities."

Alexei Kovalev:  "One-on-one, he was one of the very special players of his time. Very few players had his one-on-one moves, he was so special in his prime."

Alex Mogilny: scored 76 goals with the Buffalo Sabres in 1992-93, scored 473 goals in 990 NHL games in career, 1,032 career NHL points are second all-time among Russian-born skaters.
"He did a lot of special things, he opened up a gate for us when he left for the NHL. That wasn't an easy thing to do back then, he pretty much changed the system when he left, plus he became a great player here in the NHL."

Ilya Kovalchuk: Five times a 40-plus scorer in the NHL, twice a 52-goal scorer, before going to KHL
"You have to remember, he might come back one day, who knows? I don't know if he will or not, but if he does, he can add to his great numbers. His speed and shooting ability, there aren't many players like him. It was tough to play against him in the NHL. He deserves to be mentioned on this list, too."

Sergei Zubov: Second all-time in NHL scoring among Russian defencemen with 771 points (152 goals, 619 assists)
"I loved the way he played, he could control a game, his great passing ability, he could slow down a game, he had a special talent for sure."

Sergei Gonchar: All-time leading NHL scorer among Russian-born defensemen with 811 points (220 goals, 591 points) in 1,301 games
"We're not going to talk about me," Gonchar said, chuckling.

So, what do you guys think? Let me know in the comments. I believe Datsyuk is the best, but it is a personal opinion.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Russian Young Gun: Artemi Panarin Rising

The Chicago Blackhawks have been enjoying the influx of Russian players to their team: Victor Tikhonov, Artem Anisimov, and, best of all, Artemi Panarin. After conducted an interivew with Artemi Panarin, he dropped some gems that deserve to be on this blog. Here's what he had to say about playing on one of the top NHL teams and his chemistry with Patrick Kane and how other Russian players influenced him.

* For the original article by Leonid Varshavsky, click here.
*This article was translated by The Hockey Writers. For the interview on their website, click here.

Interviewer: In the last couple of years you had quite some progress. How did you achieve that?

Panarin: I have to thank Viktor Tikhonov, he helped me a lot even when we were playing for SKA. And I also had Ilya Kovalchuk. I followed these players and I improved thanks to them. I was very happy to be playing in the same team with such great forwards. Just as I’m happy now to be playing with Kane, Toews, and Hossa. They are also allowing me to progress. Look how great is playing Kane right now, he’s the goal and pointscorer leader of the whole league. I have to work hard to get to his level.

What did Ilya Kovalchuk told you about the NHL?

“There’s nothing to be scared of, Tema.” He told me to be myself, not to change my game and not to lose confidence. Play the way I can. That’s all.

Artem Anisimov is doing a great job complementing you and Kane. What is his secret?

Well, he has such a good contract (laughs). I think he understands very well what kind of hockey I and Patrick want to play. He helps us a lot. I don’t think it’s just down to his size, his task isn’t just to hit people around. He could be even smaller, just to skate faster (laughs). With his size he can be very good at screening the goalie, but he doesn’t always want to fight in the slot.

Why did Chicago undergo the Russian invasion exactly this summer?

Our contracts with SKA run out. Viktor wanted to get here even earlier. I wasn’t thinking about it before, I didn’t consider myself ready to the NHL. But I was 23, 24 now. We also won the Gagarin Cup. I understood that it was the right time to go to the NHL. It was the right time to make a step forward.

Now the whole world knows who Artemi Panarin is. Do you feel more pressure?

I remember when I was 18 or 19 and no one in Russia knew about me. Now I’m the right person in the right moment.

Why do you wear #72?

I simply like how it looks.

What did you learn in your first months in Chicago?

My height didn’t grow, therefore I haven’t learned any supernatural method here (laughs). Now I’m paying more attention to little things like work with the stick. Generally speaking, there was a period where I was a little lost. And maybe now, after a small decline, a big boost is ahead of me.

What do you do to get better?

I try to eat more (laughs). I try to think the correct way. I try to adjust myself and my game. It’s hard to find some time to practice in Chicago, but I need to be more and more useful to my team.

What suggestions do you get from your coaches and teammates?

When I was in a goal drought, my teammates would approach me and tell: “Relax and don’t think about that.” I understood that, but it was hard anyway. It’s very hard to keep your cool. I was worried, but the advice was helpful.

What did you have to adapt more in the NHL?

When I started playing here I had a lot of questions in my mind. First of all about speed. Then I also noticed that here players play stronger on the stick. At first it was hard because I couldn’t receive passes, but now my reaction became better.

What is the difference between playing with Kane and Toews?

I like playing with anyone. I’m going to play with any player my coaches will indicate. Of course when I play with Kane we show more chemistry. But on the other hand I played much more with him, than with Toews.

It looks like you and Kane have a lot of chemistry.

We are on the same wavelength. He can even understand my English. I’m very surprised. He always finds the right words so that I can understand him.

What do you like more than everything about Chicago?

Here there is more sun than in St. Petersburg (laughs).

Recently Sergei Fedorov has been inducted to the Hall of Fame. Was he your childhood idol?

When I was a kid I didn’t even know all the players. The NHL wasn’t a goal for me. I couldn’t even dream about that. When I was a bit older, then I started paying attention to players. And of course Fedorov always impressed me.

Can you say the same about Alexander Ovechkin? Do you know him?

Yes, we got to know each other playing for the national team. It’s great that we have such a great player playing for Russia.

Soon Ovechkin will become the top Russian NHL goal-scorer of all times. Will you catch him up?

To get to that I have to play for long time like Jagr (laughs).

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Greatest Russian NHL Goal Scorer is no Longer Sergei Fedorov

Alex Ovechkin is now the greatest Russian goal-scorer the NHL has ever seen! On a crazy sick goal assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie, Ovechkin made it to 484 goals to break Sergei Fedorov's previous record of 483. Naturally, Fedorov, who was like a father to Ovechkin in his young playing days, wasn't upset. As a matter of fact, he was happy for his close friend. "It's awesome," Fedorov told last week. "Records are made to be broken, so to me he's always been the goal-scorer and when he got close, I'm like, 'Of course it's him.'" When he heard that the record had finally been broken, he had more to say, "I would like to congratulate Alex on this achievement. What he has accomplished thus far in his career has been nothing short of remarkable."

What is very ironic is that Ovechkin had gotten two goals to break 483 before that, but they were waved off on coach's challenges. This time, Ovi broke the record against the Stars, and the last time the Caps beat the Stars was in 2008, when Sergei Fedorov set his record. Amazing, eh?

Also, the assist master named Backstrom is the one who helped both superstars achieve their milestones, to add to the irony.

Lastly, but not least, Ovi's remarkable goal scoring ability was finally proven, when he achieved the Russian record in 471 games less than Fedorov did. Ladies and gentlemen, you are seeing one of the greatest goal scorers the game of hockey had ever seen right in front of your eyes.

I hope you enjoyed reading! Let me know in the comments box what you think. Congratulations to Ovi on this milestone in his career, and thanks! спасибо!

Sergei Fedorov Influenced Evgeny Kuznetsov and Five Facts About Kuzya

Evgeny Kuznetsov after Russia won gold in the 2011 WJC in Buffalo, NY, USA.
In 2011, a 19-year-old Evgeny Kuznetsov, still in his second season playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk, went to a KHL All-Stars dinner in Riga, Latvia. The young centre had no idea how to act around all these strangers, people much older and more experienced than him, so he took a seat next to Sergei Fedorov, captain of a rival team. He ended up having a conversation with Fedorov, which inspired him as he went forward playing for the same team that Fedorov had played for, the Washington Capitals. Remembering his conversation with Fedorov this past week, Kuznetsov had nothing to say but good things: “He’s very much like a gentleman, you know? He said a couple of good words to me.”  After Fedorov finished his career with Metallurg Magnitogorsk just a year later, in 2012, Kuznetsov asserted that he is looking forward to seeing Fedorov again, and had the chance to meet him again on Monday, during the Capitals game against the Detroit Red Wings. 

Since his arrival in Washington in the late 2013-14 season, I have been impressed by the young Russian's dazzling skills and perfect dangles and passes. He became my favourite player and soon after, I began watching his KHL highlights and became a big fan of Traktor. Sadly, I couldn't watch the games because it is at 4 am here in the States! For all the other Kuzya enthusiasts, here are five facts about him I bet you didn't know:
1. His nickname is "Harry Potter."
The Capitals duo of Tom Wilson and Michael Latta gave him that nickname after he impressed them with his puck-handling skills that seemed magical.
2. He has a 6-month old daughter.
After getting married at age 19, Kuznetsov and his wife Nastia finally had their first daughter, whose full name is Ecenia Evgenia Kuznetsova. 
3. He is humble and a bit (?) shy.
After Kuzya scored his first career against the Edmonton Oilers early this season, he didn't even raise his hands in celebration. Every time he scores a sick overtime goal or does something that is crazy sick, he calls it "luck." Even teammate Backstrom, who is extremely humble himself, had something to say about it: "He’s kind of shy, I would say, for the media,” 
4. His idol is Pavel Datsyuk (just like me!).
Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks Datsyuk is best))
Kuzya had this to say about magic man Datsyuk, and why everyone thinks he is so impressive: “He may not score 100 goals a year, but when he’s out on the ice, he just humiliates you. He sees everything, he can tie his opponent’s shoelaces with one hand. It seems like he never even gets tired. I was happy to play against him [in the KHL during the 2012 NHL lockout], and it was a real honour to play with him [on Team Russia]. I’m too far from him and I have to work every day. I may never be like Pavel, but I want to be and have some of his skills."
5. Barry Trotz (Capitals coach) and Braden Holtby (Capitals goalie) think he can be a top-5 NHL player.
Barry Trotz just couldn't stop oohing and aahing over him: "It’s not even the same person,” Trotz said. “We always knew he had the skill, but his pro game – his North American game – has really come along. He’s not afraid of the big moments. He’s not afraid of the top players in the league. He wants to be one of the best guys in the game, and I think he can be."
On the other hand, Braden Holtby was a bit more realistic: "[Kuznetsov] had an adjustment period last year coming over. It seemed like right after the all-star break he was a different player. He was probably our best player throughout the playoffs. Right from the start of the year you could tell he has world class skill. He has the ability to be a top-five player in this league. With the amount of poise, skill, and commitment to getting better [he has], it’s amazing to watch him every day. He’s a great teammate and he’s huge for us."

Hope you enjoyed this post; let me know in the comments! Thank you for reading! спасибо!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Evgeny Kuznetsov is a Centre of Attention

          This is it, ladies and gentlemen, the moment we have been waiting for since Kuzya arrived from Chelyabinsk.
          Kuznetsov is now fitting perfectly into his role on the Capitals first line, playing effectively alongside Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. Fans have nicknamed their line TKO, or the Knockout, because of their effectiveness. Kuznetsov is now second in the NHL in points.


         Not just that, but Kuznetsov scored the first hat trick of his young career on Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Washington Capitals Offseason Recap


12 days until the Capitals' preseason starts, 31 days until their opener against the New Jersey Devils. Can't wait, eh? Well, there is much to be optimistic about this season. From the acquisition of T.J. Oshie to the signing of Justin Williams, be prepared for an exciting year. I expect the Capitals to at least reach the Final this year, if not hoist the Cup.

The Caps made several huge offseason moves:
Their earliest was signing advanced stats deity Justin Williams, who last played for the LA Kings. Williams, known as Mr. Game 7, is a huge playoff performer, and scored one of the goals in Game 5 of the Cup Final 2014, where the Kings won the Cup.
However, they lost Joel Ward, who signed with the San Jose Sharks and was also a clutch playoff performer.
The Capitals also aquired T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Winter Classic game-winning-goal scorer Troy Brouwer, as well as AHL-caliber goalie Pheonix Copley and a 2016 draft pick. T.J. Oshie is best known for his performance in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he singlehandedly helped Team USA beat the Russians in a seven-round shootout.
The Capitals also re-signed playoff performer Evgeny Kuznetsov. Expect a lot from him his sophomore year; his playoff numbers were no joke. Kuznetsov should combine with fellow sophomore Andre Burakovsky for at least 60 goals.
Bottom-sixer Jay Beagle was also re-signed; he should help the Capitals acheive their goal.
Marcus Johansson, who should assume the role of third-line centre, was also re-signed; he hit career highs in goals, assists, and points last season. He might be able to do it again.
Last, but not least, Braden  Holtby, one of the elite NHL goalies, was resigned. If Holtby puts up the numbers he did in 2014-15, expect him to be a Vezina finalist, if not the winner.

The Capitals should go deep into the playoffs this year. I nominate them to represent the east in the Final. Are you optimistic heading into this season? You should be. Let me know in the comment box.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Evgeny Kuznetsov Tallies Two Goals In Washington's 5-1 Win Over the Islanders in Game 5

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a wonderful game - tallying two goals and three points, and Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Marcus Johnasson, and Karl Alzner each registered two points.

In the background however, it was Joel Ward doing most of the work - setting up goals unnoticed, and helping Kuzetsov get his first playoff goal and his first playoff multi-goal game. What a huge night for Kuzya and the Capitals.

After Kuznetsov's first goal, he said in Russian that "his heart jumped from happiness", but he was able to control his emotions for the rest of the game, and he was able to tally his second goal. When asked about which was his favorite goal of the game, he said Alzner's was, because it "was the game-winner and a very important goal". World, meet Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Game 6 in Nassau Coliseum is an important one - the Capitals can make it or break it.

Kuzya was mic'd up for his first goal - check it out:

Here are both of Kuznetsov's goals:

Here's a chunk of the winning locker room:

So, great game to Joel Ward, who played the best today (quietly, in the background), Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera, Karl Alzner, and Marcus Johnasson, who each registered two points in the game, Evgeny Kuznetsov, who tallied two goals and three points and became the third rookie in Capitals history to tally three points in a playoff game,

And congratulations to that Russian on being able to be unselfish and with his limited ability to speak English on being able to deflect every single question praising him to the team as a whole. 

And best of all, Tom Wilson was his usual hard-hitting self. GO BABY WILLY! BEAT THEM UP!

Oh, and Tom WIlson's best friend/roommate Michael Latta was so happy during Alzner's game-winning goal, he gave him a big kiss on the helmet. 

Let's go, Caps!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why is Barry Trotz Messing With the Capitals Lines?

I have a message for Barry Trotz: Since when does Jay Beagle belong on the top line - and Troy Brouwer on the bottom? Because of Barry Trotz's messing with the Caps lines, the Caps ended up losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 because he put four forwards and one defenseman on the ice (Uh, what?), and Troy Brouwer and Jay Beagle switched roles.

My ideal lines are this:

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Glencross
Johansson - Kuznetsov - Brouwer
Chimera - Fehr - Ward
Latta - Beagle - Wilson

Honestly, I do not mind Burakovsky in Hershey as long as Glencross is here, but I do think the Capitals should trade Laich, because his possession numbers are hurting more than helping.

Also, don't forget to tune in to the #CapsNYR game tonight at 8 p.m. Lets go Caps!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Capitals-Flyers Recap: ???

The Flyers-Capitals game started out as what looked like it would be a close game that would be won (or lost) by one goal or in overtime or shootout. With no scoring in the first period, the Capitals and the Flyers played a very unexciting game.
The scoring began in the second period. Mark Streit put the Flyers up by one point within the first minute of the middle period. Alex Ovechkin tied the game about halfway through the period when he took Evgeny Kuznetsov's brilliant feed and shot a wrister which ended up in the back of the Flyers' net. Both teams went into the intermission without any further scoring.
Less than four minutes into the second period, Wayne Simmonds broke the tie for the Flyers, flipping the puck past Braden Holtby and into the net. The Capitals battled to tie the score for the next fifteen minutes, failing to do so. During the Capitals' empty net, Jakub Voracek made it 3-1, which was the final score.
The Capitals just didn't seem mentally prepared for this game, possibly the worst they've played the entire season, almost breaking their record for fewest shots on net. And Tom Wilson's penalty couldn't have had more horrible timing, when the Capitals were desperate to tie the score. What makes it even worse is that if the Capitals had been able to win this game, they would've tied the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in standings points in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals should have won this game and given themselves the top spot in their division, but they were just not cut out to play this game.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Capitals-Oilers Recap: WHAT HAPPENED THERE?!?!

I have one question: WHAT THE HECK?!?!?!
How did the Edmonton Oilers beat the Washington Capitals?

Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring for the Capitals in the first period, scoring his 26th and 27th goals of the season, and his second goal was from the Ovi Spot. Oiler Derek Roy scored soon after to make it 2-1 Capitals by beating Matt Niskanen to the net and firing his shot past Holtby. Jay Beagle returned that with a goal right before the intermission, ending the first period 3-1 Capitals. 

No scoring in the second, except Nikita Nikitin made it 3-2 late in the period.

In the third period, Nicklas Backstrom took a wonderful pass from John Carlson to make the Oilers' one-goal deficit a two-goal deficit, but Edmonton would not give up. Teddy Purcell made it 4-3 in the final five minutes, then Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied it in the final 100 second.

A long, uneventful overtime period occurred, with no scoring, then came the shootout:

  • Kuznetsov scored.
  • Yakupov did NOT score.
  • Backstrom did NOT score.
  • Eberle did NOT score.
  • Ovechkin did NOT score.
  • Roy scored.
  • Fehr did NOT score.
  • Purcell scored.
Ugh! So Capitals lost 5-4 to Edmonton in shootout. No comment.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Capitals-Oilers Preview

The Capitals had two losses last weekend that put an end to their "we-are-a-team-who-plays-so-well-we-only-get-wins-or-OT-losses-no-regulation-losses" stretch that has been going on since December, while the Oilers had just ended their longest road losing streak in team history.
Now the two teams meet, with Washington (24-13-8) looking to have their longest home win streak since 2011, and the Oilers (11-26-9) looking for another road victory.
The Capitals are fighting with the Rangers for the third seat in the Metropolitan Division, and the Rangers have been burnin' hot this season. The Capitals must win over Edmonton to compete with the Rangers. "It's imperative that we get Tuesday's game," coach Barry Trotz said. "We have to be hungry. We have to get that game. To me, it's almost like a must-win game."
The Oilers, on the other hand, just ended a fourteen-game road skid with an overtime goal by Nail Yakupov. "It's always great to get two points before facing a pretty good team, Washington," said Yakupov. "A couple of days of rest and we've got to be ready for the next game."
After this game, no more games until after the All-Star break.
I just checked, and right now it is 3-1 Capitals at the end of the first period.