All the youths of the NHL these days are talking about the “Kucherov,” a scoring move popularized by Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov in which a player feigns a cross-body deke in front of the goalie and lets the puck slide untouched through the goalie’s legs.
Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala became the latest to pull off the move, and he didn’t even mean to do it.
In the second period, Fiala moved towards the net on an odd-man rush. He attempted to bring the puck back to his forehand as he cut across the crease, but instead the puck rolled off his stick and trickled through goaltender Aaron Dell’s legs. That goal padded Nashville’s lead to 3-1, and they never looked back. They would add four more before the final horn sounded to beat the San Jose Sharks 7-1.
Goalies everywhere are furious that this move is catching on. pic.twitter.com/5YRRD9vamP
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 23, 2018
Even though the move has been all the rage lately in hockey circles, Fiala made it clear he wasn’t trying to pull it off.
“Yeah, I saw it, but nope I didn’t mean to,” he said.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne, who notched his 300th career victory on Thursday, was perplexed by that kind of move, even if Fiala did it accidentally.
“I think, like Kev said, that looked like he just lost the puck,” Rinne said. “It doesn’t really matter, it’s the same move that Kucherov has been using. It’s a gutsy play, I don’t think a lot of guys are willing to make that play in a breakaway or shootout. Nobody has really tried that against me. I couldn’t really tell, but it looks like it’s a very hard one to stop.”
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 21, 2018
Perhaps the reason why some thought the move was intentional was because Fiala has shown he’s more than capable of pulling off filthy moves like that. The goal may have been accidental, but the effort to get the puck to the net like that was anything but. Fiala put five shots on net in this game and blocked one opposing shot.
This entire season has been one of growth and development for the second-year player. He’s currently second on the team in goals and fourth on the team in points. The sweet hands and the knack for the net have always been there, but he has been able to develop other aspects of his game that put him in the position to make those highlight-reel plays.
Head coach Peter Laviolette was impressed with his young forward.
“He’s an incredibly talented person,” he said. “It looked to me like the puck drifted off his stick, it looked like he had other intentions. But you never know. I say bring the puck to the net as much as possible regardless of how it gets there because you never know what’s going to happen. That’s probably a perfect example.”
“As far as Kevin goes, he’s a guy that has so much skill. I thought his game was really strong tonight. I thought he worked hard and fought for his chances. It probably wasn’t the way he planned it on that goal, but they all count.”
Fiala’s season was jumpstarted when the Predators acquired center Kyle Turris in November. Since then, he’s played on a line with Turris and Craig Smith and the trio have been electrifying. Fiala and Smith sit at two and three on the Predators scoring chart, and Fiala said he’s feeling great about where he’s at in his second season.
“I have great players here who help me, two Swiss guys too,” he said. “A lot of Swedes, but everybody. I love everybody out there. Everybody’s helping me. I feel at home here and I feel very good right now.”
With the Predators sitting pretty at the top of the Central Division, they take on divisional rival St. Louis in a rare morning start on Sunday on NBC.