At the end of the first round of the NHL Playoffs there was a lot of discussion about Evgeny Kuznetsov and his seemingly lack of play during the playoffs. Some sportscasters expressed extreme worry–others said it highlights his inexperience.
Ok – so lets look at the numbers.
In six games he scored one goal on a power play.
In six games he did not record one assist.
In six games he had 20 shots on goal (SOG).
He has a -2.
All this from the guy who at the end of the regular season ranked third in the NHL for assists and ninth in overall points
In his last six regular season games Kuzy averaged 19 SOG with three assists. In that same timeframe he averaged 17 minutes on the ice compared to an average of 16 minutes on the ice during the first round.
To put it in perspective, Evgeny ranks third on the team for SOG during the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin has 29 and John Carlson has 25. He is one of four players with one goal; two others have two goals and two players have three (Ovi and Backstrom).
We think it is way too early to think that Evgeny has lost the Kuzy-Magic. This was a tough series. He was in the thick of it. Like most of the players, they were shooting the puck and trying their best to score, but in at least two of those games there was this little problem named Michal Neuvirth.
Playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kuzy has been pretty average. He has one goal and one assist in four games and averaged two shots per game. About what everyone did in those games. Like everyone, he will need to increase his physical presence and create as much activity in front of the Pens net as possible. Everyone will need to crash the net–repeatedly.
We have faith in Kuzy. He will get his groove. We will see the magic again.