Photo: Alex Brandon
Washington Capitals top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has struggled during much of the preseason. He’s blown assignments, been the cause of several opponents’ goals, and looked generally lost at center. On Sunday, Barry Trotz moved Kuznetsov back to wing, the position he’s played for years in Russia. Kuznetsov looked far more relaxed.
Playing on the fourth line with Chris Brown and Liam O’Brien, Kuznetsov immediately scored in the first period of their final preseason game.
The goal took poise and patience.
As O’Brien finds the Russian forward wide open near the right circle, Kuznetsov cradles the puck, then holds onto it as two Carolina Hurricane defenders collapse on him. Canes goalie Anton Khubdobin leaves the crease to take away the angle.
Instead of forcing a pass, Kuzya waits for the perfect moment and calmly banks the puck off of Jiri Tlusty’s skate right into the net.
Kuznetsov may start this season on the fourth line, but after a few weeks of inspired play he might force his way up the line-up. He’s just too gosh darned good for fourth-line minutes.
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