Before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Montreal Canadiens at Capital One Arena on Wednesday (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington), right-wing Aliaksei Protas, who is expected to skate on the top-line alongside center Evgeny Kuznetsov and captain Alex Ovechkin, said “I think it’s going to be really fun, really great experience for me when you’re growing up, watching those guys play and now you’re playing with them.”
”Watching them growing up, it’s awesome. Playing with them? That’s great. … I can’t wait to play with those guys,” Protas continued. He added that all three communicate in Russian. Even though Protas is from Belarus, there are a lot of similarities between his native language and Russian.
He said that the key to success against the Canadiens will be ”just have to keep battling and competing every game” and his confidence will go up.
On his first career NHL goal getting called back in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on November 16, the 20-year-old quipped ”If I was the ref, I would for sure say it was a goal.”
Going into Wednesday’s contest, Protas wants to compete and do what the coaches tell him to. He knows that Ovechkin and Kuznetsov will support him but the key to playing with them will be communication. The two Russians help him a lot. “I think you have to be focused every time” because they’re experienced and good playmakers, Protas added. ”I just have to play my game.”
Regarding Ovechkin specifically, Protas called him ”professional” and “a goal scorer. He tries his best every shift [and] that’s why he scores goals.” With him just two power-play goals away from the NHL record, Protas told the media that “He’s got a shot, he can shoot the puck for sure. Now, it’s up to them to try to help him to get it.”
“It’s going to be really fun, really great experience for me when you’re growing up, watching those guys play and now you’re playing with them.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 24, 2021
By Harrison Brown