Capitals

Quick Links

How Evgeny Kuznetsov emerged from his 2016 struggles to become a leader for the Caps

How Evgeny Kuznetsov emerged from his 2016 struggles to become a leader for the Caps

Game 5 was the best of the series for Washington and it’s not hard to figure out why. When the Caps needed their best players to step up, just about every one of them did.

“When you have your back against the wall a little bit which we have because we've lost three games in this series, I think you look for people, your leaders to make a moment, make a difference,” Barry Trotz said in a conference call with the media Sunday.

Among those leaders? Evgeny Kuznetsov.

RELATED: Playoff Power Rankings: Not over yet

Kuznetsov scored the game-winning goal on Saturday and has had a major impact on this series with four goals and one assist in five games. This entire postseason represents a dramatic rebound from last year’s postseason in which Kuznetsov managed only one goal and one assist in 12 games. Through 11 games this year, he already has eight points.

“[Kuznetsov] understands what the playoffs bring, meaning that you've got to fight for inches, you're not going to have as much room,” Trotz said. “I think he understands that it's a process that, I think he learned from last year, that you’ve really got to work for your inches. … I think it's just a mental attitude that he's embraced the playoffs.”

The storyline coming out of last season’s loss to Pittsburgh was the Caps’ lack of secondary scoring. Kuznetsov’s lack of production was as big a reason as any why Washington was dispatched by their archrivals in six games.

While the team made moves in the offseason to boost the offense from the bottom six, there was also a recognition from the coaching staff and the player that Kuznetsov has to play a significant role on the Caps in order for the team to be successful.

The fact that the coaches seemed to place more confidence on Kuzentsov this season, even after last year’s playoff disappointment, seems to have sparked more confidence in the young center which has translated to more postseason production.

And it’s a good thing too, because Washington can’t win without him.

“He's at a place where I think he understands that he is a big part of our team, not only now, but going forward,” Trotz said. “I think that's a comfort level or a confidence that is given to him by the responsibility and his position on the team.”

MORE CAPITALS: Why beating Fleury is the key to the series

Quick Links

T.J. Oshie likes his chances if given the opportunity to hit a penalty shot to win the Stanley Cup

T.J. Oshie likes his chances if given the opportunity to hit a penalty shot to win the Stanley Cup

T..J Oshie has some experience in clutch moments when the game is on the line and his name is called.

Thursday, his name wasn't listed in a hypothetical poll on Twitter on which player fans would want to take the final shot if the Stanley Cup was on the line. A shocking omission of one of the most legendary shootout players of all-time.

Even with options such as Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Patrick Kane, No. 77 insinuated he had a different player in mind.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

Oshie single-handedly defeated Russia at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi over six years ago.

Six times Oshie was sent to the ice in a shootout in a preliminary round match against Russia. He answered the bell four times for another legendary U.S. win over Russia.

Oshie has the fourth-most shootout goals (45) in NHL history, only trailing Kane, (47), Frans Nielsen (49), and Jonathan Toews (50).

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Alex Ovechkin among players contributing to CCM Hockey's donation of surgical masks

Alex Ovechkin among players contributing to CCM Hockey's donation of surgical masks

With surgical masks in short supply because of the coronavirus pandemic, different companies are stepping up to provide masks to the people who need them the most, the healthcare workers. CCM Hockey is among those companies and announced on Wednesday that they will be donating 500,000 surgical masks to healthcare workers.

Several NHL stars are contributing to the donation including Alex Ovechkin.

“By teaming up with our roster of CCM athletes, we will be able to play a role in the collaborative effort to get past this crisis,” CCM CEO Rick Blackshaw said in a statement on their website. “We focused on the best use of our network and our resources to have the quickest impact. Sourcing greatly needed equipment through our established supply chain partners in Asia is the most efficient way for us to support and keep our real heroes safe."

Ovechkin is listed among the players who contributed to the CCM donation.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

The other players listed are Mat Barzal, Patrice Bergeron, Brock Boeser, Dani Cameranesi, Brandon Carlo, Thomas Chabot, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Sidney Crosby, Melodie Daoust, Alex Debrincat, Brianna Decker, Matt Duchene, Matt Dumba, Marc-Andre Fleury, Filip Forsberg, Jake Gardiner, Miro Heiskanen, Filip Hronek, Jonathan Huberdeau, Seth Jones, Nathan Mackinnon, Charlie McAvoy, Connor McDavid, Artemi Panarin, Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, and John Tavares.

“The CCM Pros are men and women of action," Blackshaw said. "It troubles them to feel helpless as they witness the devastating effects of this pandemic. At the core of this great sport, hockey is about courage, commitment to a higher goal, as well as to one another. It is exactly these player qualities and beliefs that will allow us to emerge stronger from this challenge.”

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: