Alexander Kuvayev is lined up by Konstantin Pushkaryov. (via KHL/YouTube)
The KHL preseason is underway, but 22-year-old Alexander Kuvayev might be wishing it hadn’t started yet. Kuvayev was flattened by former Los Angeles King Konstantin Pushkaryov in a preseason game. The hit was hard enough to pop Kuvayev’s helmet off.
Alexander Kuvayev may have learned a very important lesson this KHL preseason: don’t cut around the net blindly because it likely won’t end well.
In a preseason KHL game contest between Kuvayev’s Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Barys Astana, the 22-year-old winger picked up the puck on the right wing boards and took it down behind the Astana net. As he was cutting around the back of the goal, Kuvayev dropped his head to corral the puck and did so just long enough that he didn’t see former Los Angeles King Konstantin Pushkaryov coming in for a huge check.
As soon as Kuvayev got around the net, he got drilled by Pushkaryov. The check was hard enough to send Kuvayev’s helmet sailing and the young winger was knocked out of the tilt:
Thankfully Kuvayev’s head didn’t make contact with the ice following the hit and he was able to skate off under his own power. It appeared that, if anything, he injured his leg, as he’s visibly limping as he heads down the tunnel.
Fans of major junior might recognize the names of both players. Kuvayev spent two seasons in the WHL — one with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and one with the Vancouver Giants — and Pushkaryov played one season with the Calgary Hitmen. The WHL can be one of the more physical leagues in major junior, so one would expect Kuvayev to understand the dangers of curling around the net with his head down, but he may have learned that lesson the hard way.
Pushkaryov is a veteran of more than 230 AHL games and suited up for 17 NHL games, all with the Kings, from 2005 to 2007. He was drafted 44th overall by Los Angeles in 2003.