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Notebook From Moscow

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
Golden Year

Canada’s gold medal is its third in the last five years and its 23rd in the history of the tournament.

Cup Runneth Over
Four members of the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes won gold with Team Canada at this tournament. Goaltender Cam Ward, defenseman Mike Commodore and forwards Erik Staal and Justin Williams are now two-thirds of the way toward joining the 18 players in hockey history who have claimed the hockey triple crown: gold medals in both the Olympics and the World Championship and a Stanley Cup championship. The Carolina Four will have a chance to complete the triple crown in 2010 if they can land a spot on Team Canada for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Dominant, Yet Disappointing
Team Russia finished the tournament with a record of 8-1 and it outscored its opponents by a combined 43-14 in those eight games. Yet the Russians came away with a disappointing (to the locals, anyway) bronze medal finish. Russia’s lone loss was by a single goal in overtime, illustrating how one bounce, one play, one shift can mean the difference between bronze and gold.

Gold medalist Canada finished at 9-0 while outscoring its opponents by a combined 40-21. Silver medalist Finland finished 6-3 while outscoring the opposition by a combined 29-16.

Missed it by That Much
Finland failed in its bid to win its first World Championship since 1995 and its second ever. The Finns won bronze last year and have now won silver six times, all since 1992.

Ex-Pats in the Making?
According to Kevin Paul Dupont’s piece in the Sunday Boston Globe, Russian forward Sergei Zinoviev may have some interest in playing in North America in 2007-08. Along with Alexei Morozov and Danis Zaripov, Zinoviev is one-third of the splendid line that dominated both the Russian Super League for the last two seasons and the 2007 World Championship here in Moscow.

Zinoviev was the Bruins’ third round choice (73rd overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and he briefly played in North America during the 2003-04 season. Zinoviev got into four games with Boston’s Providence farm club that season and also skated in 10 games with the parent club, picking up an assist and two penalty minutes.

The 27-year-old center could conceivably slot behind Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron on Boston’s depth chart up the middle. Zinoviev is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July, 2008.

Zinoviev finished with a tournament leading plus-10. He also wound up with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) to finish in a tie with Morozov for second on the tournament scoring ledger.

And what of Caps’ Russian prospect Ivan Nepryayev? The 6-foot-2, 198-pound pivot spent much of the final week of the Worlds centering Alexander Ovechkin on Russia’s third line. While theirs wasn’t an offense-producing unit, the Caps’ 2000 fifth-round pick impressed with his play in penalty killing situations, was strong on draws, and was clearly Russia’s shut-down forward for the opposition’s top offensive threats.

The Caps of course have a glut of third and fourth line forwards throughout the organization, but Nepryayev’s size, mobility, and versatility could make either an already rostered checking center trade bait or Nepryayev himself shoppable at the Entry Draft in Columbus next month.    

The rub with both Zinoviev and Nepryayev is whether either is willing to take less money for a year or so to play in North America. Zinoviev reportedly is willing to do so in hopes of doing better in the summer of 2008 free agent market. Nepryayev’s 2007-08 leanings are less firm at this point.

2007 Worlds All Tournament Team
On Sunday night the media covering the Worlds voted on an All Tournament team. Here are the selected standouts:

Forwards: Evgeni Malkin (Russia), Rick Nash (Canada), and Alexei Morozov (Russia)
Defensemen: Andrei Markov (Russia), Petteri Numminen (Finland)
Goaltender: Kari Lehtonen (Finland)

Foes Today, Friends Tomorrow
Today’s bronze medal game featured Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin of Team Russia and future Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom of Team Sweden. The next time these two talents take the ice in a meaningful game is likely to be as Capitals teammates in October when Washington opens its 2007-08 regular season schedule.

At the request of On Frozen Blog’s Mike Rucki, Ovechkin and Backstrom posed for a tandem photo after Sunday’s game and many European photographers also took advantage of the photo-op.

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