The Washington Capitals have lost their last four games and are sitting in third place of the Metropolitan Division.
Saturday morning, Caps head coach Todd Reirden debuted new lines to try and jumpstart his struggling team. The biggest change was Reirden dropping Evgeny Kuznetsov out of the top six so that he can center the third line.
Despite having 38 points in 41 games, Kuznetsov has struggled all season long, especially at five-on-five. The Russian pivot has scored only two goals at even strength and owns a 47.7 shot-attempt percentage — worst among all of the Capitals’ starting centers. Kuznetsov sees only 42.3 percent of high-danger opportunities when he’s on the ice too.
After practice, Kuznetsov spoke to the media about the Capitals’ recent play and how he can be better.
Kuznetsov on the team’s four straight losses:
Evgeny Kuznetsov: We just don’t execute those chances we had and some other games, we have breakaways and we do not score. The hockey going right now is about two or three chances in the game. Used to be you can give up three, four, five chances and you know you’re going to get back and right now it’s not that easy. Very defensive. We gotta pay attention more to those chances we have.
Does the line changes get everyone’s attention?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: We’ll see how it go tomorrow, right? When you score four goals in last four games, it’s not good. We have to execute. We’re pretty good players. We can play with anybody.
What about your own game the last few weeks?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I don’t like talk about that. When your team winning, you always happy. When you lose, sometimes you need those types of challenges. That’s the moment I like. When things not going well. You can see how team can turn from bad situation to good situation. That’s the good challenge for us.
Any common themes with the team’s struggles?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I believe that 82 games it’s hard to always score a lot of goals five-on-five. It will be some up and downs during the year. I believe that’s the time when we have to go through it together. As long as we have chances, we have to score. If you play without chances, that’s bad. But if you look at the stats, we’re not that bad.
It’s not the end of the world you’ve lost these last few games, but is there a sense of urgency heading into the All-Star Break?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: We have to focus on the next game. If we gonna keep thinking about all those old games, it’s not gonna be in our favor. We have to focus more on the future.
It’s been said that you can be one of the best players in the league when you choose to be. Do you feel pressure when you’re not producing?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I personally like those situations. That’s when team gets together. The good teams always get together in those bad situations. Sometimes you need them.
Kuznetsov had a point in eight consecutive games (one goal, nine assists) immediately following return from his concussion.
In 15 games since then, he has one goal, six assists.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 19, 2019
Headline photo: @Capitals
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