Evgeny Kuznetsov was sensational last season, becoming the first player not named Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom to lead the Capitals in points in over a decade. But something seemed wrong at the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
In Kuznetsov’s first 23 games of the year, the Chelyabinsk native tallied only nine points – never quite looking like his previous self. Analysts wondered if Kuznetsov was in the throes of a sophomore slump, which was further exacerbated by his postseason performance the previous spring.
According to NHL.com, Kuznetsov had a “very serious” ankle injury.
The news comes from the NHL’s Pavel Lysenkov after the reporter interviewed Sergei Gimaev – a former player/coach and one of the best hockey pundits in Russia (MatchTV) – on Monday.
“As for the forwards, I am very happy for Evgeny Kuznetsov,” Gimaev said as translated by Igor Kleyner. “He is picking up points, playing well. But the readers need to understand the circumstances, which they weren’t aware of. I know, because I follow Washington very closely, and personally visit the capital as well.”
“So, in the beginning of the season, Kuznetsov had a very serious leg injury,” Gimaev revealed. “More specifically, it was his ankle. You should have seen just how he was putting his skates on – with a great deal of pain! He was playing through it, but remained in the lineup. And now he is healthy, and our bird Kuznetsov is flying again. He skates like an eagle gliding in the sky!”
Since December 5th, Kuznetsov has been a different player. Kuzy’s tallied 32 points in his last 28 games. He was also named the NHL’s first star of the month for January.
12pm update: Barry Trotz denies the NHL.com report that Evgeny Kuznetsov played through an ankle injury.
Re: report that Kuznetsov was suffering from an ankle injury at the start of season, Trotz says he's unaware of any such injury.
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) February 3, 2017
Trotz said Russian report of Kuznetsov having an ankle injury earlier this season would be news to him. Said it's false.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 3, 2017
Trotz said report out of Russia that Kuznetsov was playing with serious ankle injury early in season was news to him. "False news."
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 3, 2017
3:20pm update: Here’s Trotz’s full comments to the press Friday.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 3, 2017
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