Last year, Nikita Kucherov finished second on the Lightning with an impressive 10 playoff goals.
This year, he’s scoring at an even better clip.
Kucherov has nine markers through 13 games thus far, a major reason why the Bolts are playing in their second straight Eastern Conference Final. The Russian sniper is tied with San Jose’s Joe Pavelski for the playoff scoring lead, and has been one of the most active shooters in the postseason (43 shots on goal in 13 games).
Widely regarded as one of the most accurate and lethal shooters in the NHL, Kucherov’s marksmanship has won him accolades from a number of people — including his assistant coach, Steve Thomas.
“His ability to get pucks on and off his stick is amazing,” Thomas told the Tampa Bay Times. “That’s 80 percent (of) shooting the puck, the art of deception.
“He just has an unbelievable hockey IQ. That allows him to see the ice the way he does and anticipate plays.”
The issue now, of course, is that Kucherov has yet to find the back of the net through the first three games of the Eastern Conference Final. It’s his longest scoring slump of this postseason, and a big reason why the Bolts trail the Penguins two games to one.
But given how Kucherov can shoot the puck, don’t expect that slump to go on much longer.