May: Evgeny Kuznetsov is the 'most talented' Caps player ever

Chris Lingebach
June 04, 2018 - 4:45 pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin are playing out of their minds, combining for 26 goals and 52 points in these playoffs, and their elevated play is propelling the Capitals closer and closer to a Stanley Cup.

The duo notched another pair of goals in the second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the difference in the 3-1 game that went in the Capitals' favor. Now the Caps lead the series 2-1 and have a chance to take a commanding lead with a Game 4 victory Monday night.

Kuznetsov, who was a game-time decision ahead of Game 3, after suffering an "upper-body" injury in Game 2, also assisted on Ovechkin's goal. He's epitomized how Washington has upped its performance as a unit, leaving onlookers stunned, wondering if this is finally the Capitals' year.

"He's the most talented player ever to play for the Capitals," Alan May, sponsored by Dominion Jewelers, told The Junkies. Strong words about a player who's teammates with Ovechkin.

"To see him realizing how incredibly amazing that he can be, and I've said this all year long -- he probably gets a little pissed off at me -- that he should be in the top three, top five scoring," he said. "He should be challenging (Sidney) Crosby and (Connor) McDavid, because he's that good. He's the most talented player ever to play for the Capitals and I couldn't imagine playing that game with him the other night.

"He is absolutely amazing," he continued. "And now that he realizes how important he is, it's so incredible to see him elevate and play his A-game. Every single game of these playoffs, there's been so much commitment from him, but to make sure that he's not just a playmaker and a dangler with the puck, but a shooter as well. Look at all the goals that he's scored. I just think this is so amazing to see all these guys come together right now, but to see a guy become even more. He was a star before; now he's a superstar."

In May's opinion, Game 2 was the "best all-around hockey game" Kuznetsov's ever played. And what a time for it.

"For a guy who everyone is assuming, 'Well, if he's got a shoulder injury, does he have a hand injury? What is it?' That he's gonna have to be shy on the boards, that he's not going to go to the high-traffic areas," said May. "The first shift of the game, he takes a stick to the face. And I thought it was his shoulder at first, because I just caught it out of the corner of my eye. And he's down on his hands and knees. He gets up real quick, skates, changes, then comes out and lays a big body check on the same guy that hit him, was skating around playing a physical game.

"He had some snarl the other night. I just thought the layers and the levels of intensity that he played in that game with was absolutely spectacular. And then to score the goal the way he did, takes a look at Jay Beagle on the two-on-one and says, 'Not a chance, Jay. I'm the goal-scorer here.' And he shoots that, he just snipes an incredible goal."

An analyst on NBC Washington's post-game shows, May noted Caps fans have equally upped their game as their team's surged on in the playoffs.

"From the first time we went outside and started doing these shows, the response from the fans has been amazing," he said. "And just to see the excitement and the pure joy from everyone, for finally getting these wins all through the playoffs. It started in the Columbus series and the momentum has carried on, and I still think everyone's a little bit in shock that this is happening, that the Caps are in the Finals, they're up two games-to-one.

"And I think the anxiety that they've had over the years, and all of those tough days of supporting their team and thinking it's never going to happen -- this town is cursed -- it looks like everyone's closer to their dreams being fulfilled, as far as having their favorite hockey team in town be able to win a Stanley Cup."

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