The Washington Capitals saw yet another loss at practice on Thursday — and this time, it’s impacting their top line. Evgeny Kuznetsov left the ice on Thursday with what the team is calling a lower-body injury.
Kuznetsov had been skating with his usual top line with Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson at practice. Washington went into the skate already missing Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk, along with goalie coach Scott Murray, all of who are on COVID-19 protocol. Carl Hagelin was ill and missed Thursday’s skate, but he tested negative for the coronavirus.
The injury could be a major blow to the already injury-riddled Capitals. Kuznetsov is having the ultimate revenge year and is not only among the Capitals’ top producers but one of the top scorers in the league right now. He has eight goals and 28 points through 26 games this season, and he ranks 10th in the league in scoring. He is just two points away from surpassing his 29-point total from last season.
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Kuznetsov is continuing to battle back and prove his worth following a year of inconsistency and off-ice issues in 2021 that led to trade speculation over the summer. But so far, he’s been in tremendous shape and making a major impact, while also helping fill the major void left by Nicklas Backstrom, who remains on the long-term injured reserve but is cleared for contact.
“Mentally and physically, it’s pretty hard because the pressure is on us. It doesn’t matter how many guys we miss,” Kuznetsov said of the difficulty of this season. “It’s always, you know, we raise the standard pretty high. And we got to be there because you know, myself I can have two, three pretty good games and then one game, I can be invisible, right? So but, you know, I always worry about those games. And I want to do all these high standards where I always perform.”
It is unclear what the severity of the injury is at this time, or what exactly it is. The Capitals are no strangers to injuries this season, seeing Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Conor Sheary, Lars Eller and more miss significant time with one ailment or another.