In October of 1988, Michael Jackson, the undisputed King of Pop, released the single Smooth Criminal. In June of 1993, Nikita Kucherov was born. In July 2001, Alien Ant Farm released a hit cover of Smooth Criminal to bring it back to the mainstream. Kucherov has grown before our very eyes into a smooth skating sniper in the NHL and is cementing himself as one of the elite players in the game at the age of 22. His 11 playoff goals currently leads the NHL while his 19 points put him 2nd in the standings, just behind leader Logan Couture (20). Top that off with his out of this world plus-17 to lead the NHL by a wide margin and his performance has been staggering during the 2016 NHL playoffs.
This is a continuation of the outstanding play Kucherov's put on the ice the past two seasons. He has a lethally accurate wrist shot, a smooth one-timer, and the creativity and vision to set up his teammates. His ability to possess the puck and drive the play has also become near-elite level. When the moment is big, he rises to the occasion with 5 of his 11 playoff goals coming in the third period.
None of the goalies Tampa Bay has faced thus far in the playoffs can be put into the "elite" category, but they have been good players. Last year though, the Lightning ran through some of the best beating Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, and Corey Crawford, not to mention an up-and-comer in the Red Wings Petr Mrazek. We saw Kucherov multiple times beat those elite goaltenders with his lethal wrist shot. We've seen him steal games, almost on his own at times.
Thus, I dub Nikita Kucherov the Smooth Criminal. I call on the Lightning to award him his very own goal song. Last April, I started a campaign to get Tyler Johnson his own goal song of Johnny B Goode and that happened during the playoffs. Now it's time for us to do the same for Nikita Kucherov! Tweet and retweet #SmoothCriminal and let's get the team on board!
YOU'VE BEEN HIT BY! YOU'VE BEEN STRUCK BY! A SMOOTH CRIMINAL!