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Understandable. As the man running the show, Oates has to do his best to rein in the excitement and not make Kuznetsov a star before he’s ready.

Doing that is our job anyway.

If you’ve missed what he’s done thus far, queue up a computer and take a look at a couple of plays. Find the pass that set up fellow rookie Tom Wilson’s goal in that Vancouver game. Find the pass that set up Joel Ward’s goal in the recent game at Los Angeles that enabled the Caps to force a shootout and get a point that may prove crucial in a couple of weeks.

Or go look at either of his shootout goals. Sure, they don’t count on the stat sheet but it was impressive to see him looking as comfortable and confident as he did as Oates sent him out to get the session started. For a team that had lost six straight shootouts and had struggled to get a goal in many of them, having a player it can rely on in those situations could be huge.

There’s this, too: Brooks Laich is done for the regular season after groin surgery and Mikhail Grabovski has been out a while with an ankle injury. Though he returned to practice on Monday, it is unknown when he can play again and how long it will take him to be effective. That Kuznetsov can fill part of that void is a huge help.

The Caps are 4-0-1 in their past five games after losing Kuznetsov’s first two games against Pittsburgh. Again, he isn’t the sole reason for improved play but let’s throw caution to the wind and say he’s been a big part of it. It may be too little too late and the Caps may end up missing the playoffs after being a postseason participant for six straight years.

Or maybe not. What once seemed darned near impossible doesn’t anymore. The Caps probably need 13 points in their final 10 games. If they get them and get in, Kuznetsov will almost certainly be a factor. If they don’t? At least he provides some hope for the future.