The NHL All-Star weekend has always been one in which players from every team come together and relax while having a good time. Washington Capitals Center Evgeny Kuznetsov has partaken in the festivities once before and along with teammate Tom Wilson, made the trip to Las Vegas, and the 2010 first-round pick is once again having a blast.
After a subpar season by his standards in 2020-21, Kuznetsov has rebounded this season as one of the Capitals’ most important and consistent players with 45 Points (14 goals, 31 assists) in 44 Games Played.
“It’s just halfway through the year, let’s see if we can stay consistent. Me personally, if I can continue to play my game, then we can probably judge this year after the year. There’s always room for grow and be better, but overall I think it’s not a bad year.”
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was originally voted as the captain of Metropolitan Division, however was forced to miss the All-Star weekend due to the league’s coronavirus protocols. The 36-year has continued to play at an astoundingly productive pace, defying Father Time.
“You look at the numbers he’s putting right, and all the stuff he’s doing, and you kinda realize, you may be touching a god right, when you play. But when we play, we been around him, we don’t realize who we play with, but the older we get the more we start to understand, who we are sharing the room and we pretty tight friends…the older I get the more respect for him I have”.
Kuznetsov and Wilson made the trip to Las Vegas and are the Capitals’ representatives. Kuznetsov previously played in the 2016 All-Star Game in Nashville, Tennessee, while Wilson is playing in his first.
“A lot of good players having a good year this year and when you play in the big men, you kind of not expect anything like that. If team play well, you get rewarded for that. So if your team doesn’t play good, that means your players not doing their job right. I’m just so happy both of us, me and Tom, and kinda stuck in my head, that means we’re doing all the right things and that motives us to stay strong and keep doing the right things.”
Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov became a budding superstar in the NHL in 2020-21, winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s Rookie of the Year. The 24-year old is one of the next generation of stars to hail from Russia.
“Pretty well. He’s a nice guy. I know his dad before saw his mom here, met her for the first time today. It’s nice to see young players come from Russia. He’s basically the superstar right now, right, I’m so happy for him. He’s a great player, great kid, and happy for the Minnesota future, the fans got a pretty good player. We played on the national team together. He actually told me he’s got a cat and he named him ‘Kuzy’ just because it’s me, so the older I get the more things I learn. [Moving from Russia to North America] That’s why he’s a good player, you know, and looks like a lot of stuff that he said, lot of good teammates he has, GM has help him a lot, coaches, a lot of good people. It’s very important environment around you, these people support you, can help you and that flower can come up. I hope he can speak so you can know his personality. He’s got some jokes in his pocket so to me he always wants to score the goals, he always wants to be there, and always wants to play hockey.”
Kuznetsov participated in the Fastest Skater Competition in the Skills Competition, coming in last place though with his usual good-natured attitude.
By Michael Fleetwood