Alan May: Evgeny Kuznetsov lacks intensity Caps need from him

Chris Lingebach
January 22, 2019 - 1:06 pm
Alan May: Evgeny Kuznetsov lacks intensity Caps need from him

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If the Capitals are going to shake out of this mid-season slump, they're going to need more intensity from Evgeny Kuznetsov. That is to say they'll need more intensity than the none he's currently offering, according to Alan May.

"I just see a guy who's not committed to winning puck battles," May told The Junkies during The Morning Skate, presented by D.C. Lottery. "His intensity's not there right now."

Kuznetsov has just one goal (and 13 assists) in his last 22 games, a dry spell that stretches back to Dec. 4.

"He hasn't taken ownership on the power play. And I just look at his overall play," May continued. "If you watch his body language, I don't think there could be anybody within the Caps' management/coaching staff that could be happy with him right now. He has to be so much better."

"When he's on his game, like he was last year in the playoffs, he is one of the most electrifying players in the league," he said. "I think he's doing his teammates a disservice by not being a top-five scorer in the National Hockey League right now. He should have that fire burning in his belly every game to prove that he's the best offensive player in the league, and right now, I just don't see that there. I don't see the drive, the intensity. To my knowledge, he's not injured, but he has to be way, way, way better than what they're getting out of him right now."

Kuznetsov's decline has been part of a larger issue for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Including Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Blackhawks, the Caps have now dropped five straight, and eight of their last 11 starting with a Dec. 31 loss to the Predators. The team called its first players-only meeting of the season after Sunday's loss.

"They're just out of rhythm right now. It's that time of the year," said May. "They have some guys that aren't playing very, very well, and when you have a few holes on the roster – whether they're top guys or bottom guys – I think it affects your overall play, and right now, their overall play is not that good."

"When you say 'holes on the roster,'" Eric Bickel followed up, "you just mean guys not playing well?"

"Yeah. I think some guys have totally disappeared," May said. "Other players are struggling for whatever reasons, and when you have maybe a hole on every line, or with someone not going, it makes it easier for the other teams who are pushing against. You know, this is the defending Stanley Cup champion, so they're getting the best of the best of all of these other teams. People do care about, 'These guys won the Cup. We want to prove ourselves.' And they're gonna give you a better game than, say, a year ago, when it was just the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin. And now, it's the defending Stanley Cup champs and Alex Ovechkin."

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