Inside Kuznetsov’s Slow-Mo Shootout Move & What It’s Like For Goalies
Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has taken the NHL by storm with his slow-motion shootout move. What’s it like for his teammates, and what’s it like for goalies?
WASHINGTON — As Evgeny Kuznetsov took the ice for the Washington Capitals in Thursday's shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins, almost everyone knew what was coming next, from both benches to the 18,000 faithful looking on at Capital One Arena.
Kuznetsov tweaked his shootout strategy following the 2021-22 season which saw him hit a few posts. This year, he's been pulling off the same move, and it automatically goes viral as it leads to a highlight-reel goal.
He gains speed to start behind center ice and then slows down, almost to the point that resembles when an Xbox controller dies and disconnects during NHL 23, leading to the player freezing in place. However, he follows the rules and keeps things moving — slowly. Then, as he dekes back and forth, he waits and deceives the goaltender until he sees the perfect angle. Then fires.
To do all that stuff [with the new move], I was lucky I got to hide that shot," Kuznetsov told WHN. "You know, it's little things that I tried, and it works."
"We've all seen it in practice," Nicklas Backstrom, who had the shootout winner, added. He does these things. He's so comfortable out there with that move."
Sometimes you just gotta sloooow it down… 🐢 pic.twitter.com/ismDS6JF8E
— NHL (@NHL) January 27, 2023
But what's it like for the opposing netminder?
Casey DeSmith offered his insight on the move, which is difficult to stop.
"It's really hard," he explained. "It's a good move. He can shoot it at any time. He can hold it, he can deke, he can make multiple moves. Definitely tough."
"I'm happy I'm not a goalie," Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said earlier this season, adding on Thursday that his skill is "top-notch."
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DeSmith also said there may be one way to better prepare for his antics.
"Have to go get some film on those," he remarked.
As for Kuznetsov, it's all part of his fun-loving identity — and he's not changing anytime soon, nor does he care what anyone thinks of his moves or personality.
"I'm just enjoying it. I'm happy to be here. And if I'm in a happy place, I'm always gonna smile and enjoy it you know? It's easy to see when I'm not smiling, that means I'm not in a happy place and I'm not comfortable," Kuznetsov shared. "When I'm comfortable and I'm enjoying it, it's just me. I'm not trying to be somebody else, I'm just like that. You know, if somebody doesn't like that, they can talk, but I'm sorry. That's who I am and I'm not going to change."