On December 1, Caps’ forward Evgeny Kuznetsov gave an interview to Alexei Shevchenko of the Russian Sport Express. Kuznetsov answered several questions which covered a wide range of topics, including a handful about the Capitals and Kuzy’s first quarter of the 2016-2017 season performance, or lack thereof.
See a summary of the conversation below. Please note that this article was translated using “Google Translate” and we wanted to keep Kuzy’s responses largely unedited. You can review the original article by clicking here, and then use Google Translate, to read the article in its entirety.
Barry Trotz Being Hit in Head with a Puck – In case you missed it, Coach Trotz took a puck to the head last week when the Maple Leafs hosted the Caps – and the video that shows the toughness of our Coach has gone viral! Take a peek at the video below that has been viewed in excess of 334K times:
Kuznetsov answered that Barry is a strong man who never indicated that he was hurt. He also indicated that “everything was in order” for Trotz and maybe enough ice on the errant puck stayed on the wound and helped prevented further damage.
His “Game” and Why It’s Not His Best Season – Kuznetsov acknowledged that he’s not having the best year but the situation should be treated calmly and not by panicking. He admitted it is not easy to avoid being nervous but it is better to work to overcome the situation. He says there are pluses in that it’s early in the season and there is still time to get on the “right road”. Let’s remind ourselves at the sheer talent that Kuzy possesses – the following video highlights his 2015-2016 season, which was nothing short of remarkable.
2016 World Cup of Hockey (and cookies in the locker room!) – Kuzy and Alexei discussed the fact that Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks started having problems during the World Cup (this past summer), lost confidence and had trouble returning to his previous level. Kuznetsov contrasted his own situation. He reported that he only had positive emotions, saying that they (the Russians) had a great team and a great atmosphere within the team. The only negative was having to continue playing in the tournament even after Canada had eliminated them. Kuzy said it was a shame they did not make the final. He was pleased to be in a locker room where all the players spoke in Russian. He was also pleased that the players all would get cookies in the locker room after the game, which is something that is lacking in the NHL. He also answered that it is a common practice after games in Russia.
Why He Played Well Against the Saint Louis Blues but Not in Later Games – Kuznetsov answered that the explanation was “simpler than you think.” He had gotten sick sometime between the end of the Blues’ game and the beginning of the game against the Buffalo Sabres two days later. He was not fully healthy for either the Sabres game or the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs which took place on the very next day. There was a virus that had spread among NHL players the previous month, including Alexander Radulov who had missed a few games due to illness. Kuznetsov played anyway rather than miss any games, since the team needed him. He had played so well against the Blues, he felt like he had gotten on track, only to get ill. With some time off between games, he now said he is fine.
Kuzy’s goal against St. Louis comes at the 1:48 point in the following video:
Forward Line Combinations – He was asked about the coach’s decision to mix up the line combinations. In reply, Kuzy said there is one criteria – if the guys play well, they will get more ice time and if they don’t, they’ll get less. Kuznetsov says he does not attach importance to which particular guys are out on the ice at the same time. He says Coach Trotz is ensuring that all players are to have as good of a game as possible. He was asked about his ice time, which was about 15 minutes in the game against Saint Louis. Kuznetsov replied it was his “stable” time and that Coach Trotz tries to distribute the ice time relatively evenly.
Kuznetsov also discussed the schedule which includes 82 games (in the regular season), travel, and practices. He believes it is necessary to treat the practices properly so as not to tire mentally. He says players must enjoy the practices. If they are not interested in practice, then problems will occur. He was asked a question on the types of drills/exercises that take place during practice. In reply, Kuznetsov said they work intensely for about an hour on the ice. One of the exercises is to put gates between the guys so that they are basically working alone which is a drill on trying to move less and get the rebounds.
Why the Caps are not Playing Well – The question was whether their current play was affected by the fact they had the best regular season record the previous year but were unable to advance deep [into the playoffs] and, thus, now are playing with less intensity. Kuznetsov dismissed that idea. In response to further questions on that subject, Kuznetsov says it would be obvious if someone did not try hard. He says he and his team are fighting and trying to win and, with further effort, results will follow.
Regarding Travel: What He Does Not Like – Kuznetsov replied that he does not like the fact that it takes a half hour to drive from his home to the airport. He reports being satisfied with his hotel accommodations on the road and shares that they fly on “good” airplanes where every seat is business class. He did not hesitate to remind his interviewer that he had played hockey in Russia.
Question on Fights – He was asked about the fights of Nikita Kucherov and Artemi Panarin. He replied that he had not seen the fight of Kucherov. He also said that Panarin talked to his General Manager (Blackhawks) and was asked to not fight again. He talked about the recent Tom Wilson fight, which resulted in swollen fingers. Even so, Kuznetsov says he will not run away from a fight and would fight under the right circumstances. He says he offered to fight Nikita Zaitsev three times and was turned down each time.
Conclusion: In short, readers of this interview learned quite a bit about Kuznetsov, including the fact that he does not give canned answers to interview questions. There was also the news about illness affecting the team and was a possible explanation for the team’s lethargic showing against Toronto this past Saturday (November 26) and, if other guys later caught the same illness, an explanation for their poor results on Thursday (December 1).
Article Source: http://www.sport-express.ru/hockey/nhl/reviews/evgeniy-kuznecov-perezhivayu-ne-luchshiy-period-no-est-i-plyusy-1071705/ (via Google Translate) Alexei Shevchenko of the Russian Sport Express.
By Diane Doyle