Knee-jerk Reactions: Russia 4, Czech Republic 0
MOSCOW—May 9, 2007
- It's hard to imagine any team here having a better or deeper cast of forward lines than Team Russia's units. Team Russia Head Coach Vyachaslav Bykov wisely rolls all four.
- Evgeni Nabakov reportedly is arriving here via San Jose, but Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov could have a tough time changing netminders. Entering today's quarterfinal play Alexander Eremenko had surrendered just three goals in six games, and adding a tournament-leading .951 save percentage. Those numbers improved with the shutout of the Czechs. |
- There is an abundance of youthful skill among the Russian forwards, but the youngest of the young, Alexander Radulov and Alexander Frolov, gave Team Russia standout performances against the Czechs.
- The game was a deceptive 1-0 in favor of Russia at the second intermission. Russia controlled play throughout, and Roman Cechmanek alone was the reason it wasn't 3-0 Russia after the first.
- Caps' prospect Ivan Nepryaev played more for Russia today than in any game of the tournament, most often centering Ovechkin. In the third period, when Russia was killing nearly 90 seconds of a 5-on-3 penalty, Coach Bykov selected Nepryaev to play the forward kill. We asked Ovie about his teammate and any possibility that he might come to Washington next season, and he suggested there was interest but that during the Worlds all players focus on the tournament and do not discuss future NHL play.
- Evgeni Malkin had a monstrous game from start to finish here this afternoon. He was dominant down low in the offensive zone, he was responsible defensively and involved physically. Teammate Sergei Gonchar said of Malkin's performance, "He was skating very well. He has good chemistry with his line[mates] and played a great game." If he doesn't play another shift in the tournament, he is probably still on the all-tournament team.
- Malkin's third period goal was one for the highlight reels. He forced a turnover in the neutral zone, carried the puck across the Czech line and, realizing that a backchecking Czech was taking away the angle for a possible power move to the net, drove wide and quickly around the back of the cage and calmly deposited his wraparound shot into the yawning cage.
- Although he did not find his way onto the scoresheet, Ovechkin played a hard and energetic game throughout. He had jump every time he was on the ice, and frequently came on the sheet as if shot out of a cannon when changing on the fly.
- We have yet to see a better two-way defensive duo here than Russia's pair of Sergei Gonchar and Andrei Markov. One that comes close is Team Slovakia's Zdeno Chara and Milan Jurcina, although they were broken up for Wednesday's semifinal match with Sweden.
"It's a special day for Russia," said Sergei Gonchar after the game. "We're playing better defensively, even the goal scorers are helping out on defence."
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