Cleat Geeks

The House Kuznetsov Closed

When Washington Capitals emerging superstar Evgeny Kuznetsov scored with six minutes remaining in game seven against the New York Islander’s, he wasn’t just holding off two Islanders defenders to record a series clinching goal. He was ensuring a chapter in NHL history had officially come to a close.

The New York Islander’s have called Nassau Coliseum home since the teams inception in 1972. After 43 years the team from Long Island will be moving closer to Manhattan when they begin occupying the state of the art Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 11.47.58 PM

The move is just 45 minutes west of Nassau’s location in Uniondale, NY, but it signifies a much bigger step for the franchise.

 

Undoubtedly New York State’s most successful hockey franchise, the Islander’s players and fans have shared memories which included four Stanley Cups, six Hall of Famers and over 19 straight playoff series wins – an NHL record.

However, for as many stars as the Islanders have had step through the halls of Nassau, it was a long time rival’s newest star that would prove the end for the Isle.

In game five, Kuznetsov had the breakout performance everyone had been expecting from the young Russian phenom. With two goals and an assist Kuznetsov seems like he can be the final puzzle piece to a Capitals team long criticed for not being able to step up come spring.

After a memorable game six at home for the Islander’s, it looked as if Nassau might -will- the beaten up Islander’s to a win in game seven. This was not the case. Just like he had in game five, Kuznetsov was able to deliver a big goal when Washington needed it most. As soon as Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak had dove for the puck, Kuznetsov held on to the puck just a second long enough to have a wide open cage.

And as soon as the red light went on in Washington, you could almost hear the lights going out at Nassau.

There was close to seven minutes left, but the punishing hits laid by Washington throughout the series had taken its toll. No longer able to use their speed, the Islanders were forced to try and beat the Caps in the corners. The Islanders mustered just 11 shots in a pivitol game seven, highlighting how efficient Washington was throughout the series in filling shooting lanes in-front of Braden Holtby.

With the win, the Capitals advance to face the other New York City team in the Rangers. The series will mark the fifth time in six years that the two team will face each other in the playoffs. If Washington hopes to have the same success they enjoyed against the Islanders, they need to supress the speed of the Ranger’s.kuznetsov1-fantasy-hockey-whats-the-point-man1

Late in the first round Washington did an excellent job of eliminating the Islanders ability to stretch the ice and create odd man rushes. The same will be expected if a second victory over a Big Apple team is in the Caps future. After game seven Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik was asked about the speed of the Rangers and he talked about how they have to limit guys like Rick Nash getting open behind the Caps defense from stretch passes.

If players like game seven first-star Evgeny Kuznetsov and forward John Carlson can continue to generate scoring for an already stacked offensive team then Kuznetsov could be the piece Washington needs to start building a house of their own. With Lord Stanley proudly displayed on the mantle!

 

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