#86 Nikita Kucherov
Kucherov, who was born in Maykop, Russia, has been a dominating force for the Lightning and the National Hockey League as a whole this season. The 24-year-old sniper led the league in Points for almost the entire season. While he may not have finished the season in the top spot, he is definitely still in the nightmares of goaltenders from around the world.
Nikita Kucherov played in all but two games with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. In that amount of time, Kucherov brought home 39 goals and 61 assists for a total of 100 points. Kuch would finish the season in third place in the league in Points. This is the first time in his NHL career he has built himself a 100-point season.
The scoring prowess of one Nikita Kucherov has not quelled any since the start of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Kucherov has played in all 10 games the Bolts have played until this point in the postseason. In this amount of time, Kucherov has brought home six goals and six assists for a total of 12 points.
The Russian forward hit a bit of a slump in the Lightning’s second-round series against the Boston Bruins, but this would all come to an end before the buzzer would sound to end Game 5. Kucherov picked up a goal in Game 4 and an assist in Game 5. Needless to say, this annoying monkey is definitely off his back.
Nikita Kucherov has many things working to his advantage in this particular matchup. Excluding the obvious age difference between Kucherov and Ovechkin, Kucherov has blinding speed combined with a tremendous shot. He is not afraid to dig deep for rebounds or to fire off shots from the dirty places.
Being on the SportsCenter highlight reel is not nearly as satisfying as raising the Stanley Cup high above your head. If the Lightning needs to fire from the dirty places in order to continue advancing, then this is exactly what everyone here in the Bolts Nation wants to see.
Nikita Kucherov and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos are quickly becoming the Lightning’s new dynamic duo. The two of them feed perfectly off one another and one’s success seems to drive the other. If one of these two gets hot, the Capitals are going to be in for a rough series.