Nikita Kucherov feeling 'rusty' after holdout
Nikita Kucherov didn't know what to expect after missing training camp due to a contract holdout.
While Kucherov, 23, played in the World Cup of Hockey, Thursday's season opener against Detroit was his first game in nearly three weeks.
And to Kucherov, it showed. He was a plus-1 in 18:43 of ice time, with three shots on goal. Three attempts missed the net, including on a breakaway.
"I feel a little rusty," Kucherov said. "I didn't practice with this kind of speed, I didn't practice with this kind of players at home. It's been hard. I feel like my legs were heavy and my hands were bad. I wasn't happy with the way I played."
Kucherov had been working out in Russia during negotiations, not arriving in Tampa until Tuesday when he signed a three-year deal. After the long flight, which including a night layover in New York city following a delay, the time change took some getting used to. "Not fun," he said. But Kucherov said he felt better Saturday morning, which he hopes bodes well for tonight's game against New Jersey.