Kuznetsov has been 'dazzling' since the All-Star break

Chris Lingebach
February 13, 2019 - 1:28 pm
Kuznetsov has been 'dazzling' since the All-Star break

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Evgeny Kuznetsov been on an absolute tear, tallying 12 points on six goals and six assists in his first six games out of the All-Star break, a good sign of things to come.

Alan May since last summer's Stanley Cup has been referring to Kuznetsov as "the most talented player ever to play for the Capitals," high praise for a guy who shares the top line with Alex Ovechkin. But Kuzy hasn't lived up to that high billing this season, leaving May to question his intensity since January.

But Kuzy has been "dazzling" since the break, May told The Junkies on The Morning Skate, presented by D.C. Lottery.

"It looked like he, more than anyone, needed the break," he said. "Needed to get away from his teammates."

Kuznetsov had an especially brilliant performance in Monday's 6-4 win over the Kings, putting up four points on two goals and two assists.

"I don't know if he went anywhere with his wife and his children, or he just stayed here and got some rest, did whatever he had to do. But he came back and he looked – more than any player – looked renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated, whatever you want to call it. Because he's come on, and I think in five of the six games, he's been dazzling."

Kuznetsov did have a dud of a game in Tuesday's game – a 3-0 loss to the Blue Jackets – but so did the entire Capitals roster.

"It looks right now like he wants the puck," said May. "The power play's getting the puck in the zone because he's playing with authority. He's skating as fast as he can, he's making decisive and deliberate passes and, right now, he's the most talented player in the league in this little stretch and he's performing like he's the most talented player in the league."

May recently issued Kuznetsov a challenge, after registering 41 points (9 goals, 32 assists) through his first 44 games, to average a point-and-a-half per game the rest of the way.

"He needs basically to get 50 points in the last 32 games," he said. "Right now he's at 12, he needs 38 more. I think he's definitely capable of it. I'd love to see him come off of this road trip with momentum.

"It's tougher to play on the road the way the line matchups are and everything else that goes with it. Some of the arenas that they're going to, they do not have a good record, good or bad, whether they're a good or bad team or the opposition is good or bad. They just don't play well in San Jose. Anaheim's been tough over the years. But if Kuznetsov can continue this level of play, the Caps are in very good shape."

The Capitals head to San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Toronto and then Buffalo before returning home again.

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