Quick Links

Evgeny Kuznetsov suits up at goalie, takes on Dmitry Orlov after practice

Evgeny Kuznetsov suits up at goalie, takes on Dmitry Orlov after practice

When you’re in first place and you don’t play a game for another three days, you can afford to have some fun.

On Thursday after practice with Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer already off the ice, a third goalie emerged from the locker room to take shots from his teammates.

That goalie was Evgeny Kuznetsov.


If you’re picturing Kuznetsov just standing in the crease after practice messing around with his teammates, that’s not what happened. Kuznetsov was in full goalie pads. He had the mask, glove, stick, the leg pads, everything.

You csn see more in the video above.

“We've got some goalies on the team,” Kuznetsov said when asked where he got the equipment. “This is their old gear. Still pretty nice.”

Kuznetsov took shots from several teammates, but primarily from Dmitry Orlov and Grubauer.

Grubauer called it “time for payback on Kuzy always ripping shots high.”

“The goalies can shoot hard,” Kuznetsov said. “I wasn't expect at first the top cheese.”

How did all of this come about? Kuznetsov had been talking about the possibility for a while and, with time after practice and a day off tomorrow, he finally asked permission from Barry Trotz.

Trotz admitted his first reaction was, “Why?” But he finally acquiesced on one condition.

“I said, do not get hurt. Do not get hurt. But they were all chuckling. We let them have fun.”

“Sometimes you have to just relax,” Kuznetsov said. “Those 20 minutes give us lots of positive emotion for sure.”


While it was all in good fun, there were some stakes on the line between Kuznetsov and Orlov.

“We have a challenge and we play not for fun,” Kuznetsov said. “He lose twice so he got to get better.”

Kuznetsov admitted Orlov was not going 100-percent at him which seems obvious. The guy who scored this goal should be able to beat Kuznetsov without a problem. For his part, Kuznetsov also threw some shade saying, “I picked not the toughest opponent.”

So what was the bet?

“Yeah, that's our business,” Kuznetsov said. “But it will taste better for sure.”

Quick Links

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."


Quick Links

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.