Much has been made about Evgeny Kuznetsov’s quite finish to last season, and his extremely slow start to this season. A sophomore slump, hitting the wall, whatever you want to call it, to many in Caps Nation, the magic of Kuznetsov seemed to be gone.
From March 1st, 2016 through November 30th, 2017 (42 regular season games), Kuznetsov had registered just 4 goals. Caps Nation was wondering if they had seen the best from of the cheerful kid from Chelyabinsk.
But in December, 2017, slowly but surely Kuznetsov began to amass assists. Even though the goals were still few and far between, there seemed to be something percolating in Kuznetsov.
Like a light switch, all of the wonder and worry went out the window with his ferocious January performance. It was as if the Capitals and/or Kuznetsov decided that Kuzy should take it easy at the start of the season, as to avoid “hitting the wall” before the playoffs started. On January 3rd against Toronto, Kuznetsov would score his 4th goal of the season, and he was off and running. Kuzy scored 8 goals and registered 15 assists for the month of January, garnering Kuznetsov the NHL’s player of the month for January.
The rolling 12-month stats cover the last 365 days of regular season play (2/2/16 – 2/2/17). If you look at the table below for the period, the order and stats make a lot more sense, although Kuznetsov’s goal totals (16) are still relatively low (7th on the team) for 86 games.
The Capitals, as a team, started their flat period last year around 2/2/16 and it continued into the 2016-2017 season. One could argue that it wasn’t necessarily that Kuzy finished quietly, but the entire team finished quietly.
Nevertheless, the next few months will tell the total story. Kuznetsov is now playing at a top-level. Will it continue? It will be fun to watch.
By Jon Sorensen