As we celebrate the Capitals' 40th anniversary, let's take a moment to...
Kuznetsov’s Big Night
When Alex Ovechkin made his NHL Debut on October 5th, 2005, he made a crushing hit behind the net on his first shift, and then went on to score two big goals. Those of us that were in the stands that night will never forget it, but we’ll refer to the AP recap for some historic details :
His first NHL check was so fierce it dislodged a support beam. He refused to let his team lose, twice answering with goals less than 90 seconds after the opponents took the lead. And when his face appeared on the large scoreboard, he stuck out his tongue and flashed a charismatic smile. “I feel my dreams come true,” Alexander Ovechkin said. “I play in the NHL. First game, we win.”
Future Hall of Famers have a tendency of scoring in their first NHL game, so it was somewhat deflating when Evgeny Kuznetsov made his long-awaited Capitals debut on Monday, and failed to register a point. Of course the circumstances were a bit different.
Alex Ovechkin made his debut in the first game of the season against Columbus, skated on the top line, and trailed only his linemates when it came to forward ice-time on his team. Evgeny Kuznetsov premiered post trade-deadline against Pittsburgh, skated on the 4th line, and only registered 10:22 of ice-time. So you’ll have to forgive Evgeny for not giving fans much to cheer about.
“Kuzya” made up for it in his third NHL game though, as he scored his first point this evening. However he didn’t stop there. By the end of the game he had recorded three assists on the Caps’ four goals and landed the #1 Star in a Washington victory. He did it in even less ice-time than he had in his NHL debut. You can find all three assists on Monumental Network, but we’ll embed the most beautiful one below :
Despite the hype, and the build-up over several seasons, it’s important to be fair to this young Russian. Evgeny Kuznetsov is not Alex Ovechkin. He was drafted 26th overall, not 1st. He is currently ranked as the tenth best prospect on HockeysFuture.com, not 1st. He is not one of the best prospects to enter the NHL in a generation. He should not have the hockey hopes of an entire city resting on his shoulders. He will not be able to solve the situation in Crimea.
But there is still plenty to be excited about, and tonight he showed Caps fans glimpses of what could be coming. Ten years from now, will Capitals fans remember this game as fondly as Ovechkin’s premier? Maybe not, but at least for now, Kuznetsov is a point-per-game player in relatively little ice-time. Now we just need to get Oates to let him run on the first line, and really see what the kid can do.