The Ups and Downs of Evgeny Kuznetsov

Posted October 19, 2021

(Caps Outsider)

Ever since he joined the Washington Capitals, Evgeny Kuznetsov has shown the potential to be one of the best playmakers in the league. While we saw flashes of it for years, capped off by leading the league in points during the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, he’s never quite taken that next step to superstardom, as every eye-popping firework is followed by a dud, or in some cases (especially with his off-ice incidents) an implosion.

This was apparent in the first period of Tuesday’s 6-3 win against the Avalanche, as a created a beautiful opportunity for himself by getting around the defense and getting a semi-breakaway where he tucked it five-hole to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.

Later came a power play, where he did another one of those what-the-hell-are-you-doing-Kuzy? plays, as his turnover led to an Avs shorthanded goal.

“That mistake I made on the power play, not even one guy say anything to me,” Kuzy said after the game.

“The turnovers, when you’re a creative player, those things would happen,” Coach Peter Laviolette said, but also mentioned that Kuzy was determined to get it back. He did.

In the second period, with the Caps already up 3-2, the Caps’ top line had a monster shift in the Avs’ zone, until Kuzy had enough and decided to shoot the puck himself, which is odd because on plays like that he tends to pass. Goal, Kuzy.

In the third period, on the power play, the Caps kept trying to feed Kuzy for the hat trick. While he did get a few chances, the plays didn’t feel natural to Kuzy’s game. He doesn’t get set up for shots like that – he does the setting.

“I’m hoping to pass it!” Kuzy said. “I’m not a shooter, you know? Yeah, of course, you know, there was a few passes and they give it to me, but, you know, it is what it is, I’m happy the way we finish. It doesn’t matter. It’s not going to bother me at all, so, you know. I was always saying like, one goal for four games, and I’m all set. I’ll get 20 in a year, so now you know I’m all set for ten games probably.”

Nic Dowd disagreed. “We don’t want that. ”

Kuzy continued: “Yeah, if I will score the hattrick, it could be 12 games, right, so, nine more.” (laughs)

“Don’t print that,” Dowd said. “We need more. We need Kuzy to have a goal, every game would be perfect.”

While Dowd’s comment was taken in jest, it feels that the Caps really do have the faith in Kuzy to be the dominant player that they feel he could be.