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Russians ready to learn from one another

by John Dellapina
Pavel Datsyuk gets to bring some Detroit Red Wing structure to Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and Ilya Kovalchuk gets to show Evgeni Malkin what he has learned about positioning in a couple of weeks as a New Jersey Devil when Team Russia opens its Olympic schedule Tuesday night against Latvia.
Datsyuk, the all-around marvel who has won Selke Trophies as well as contend for scoring titles, donned a black practice sweater for yesterday's first full practice of the Vancouver Games at Canada Hockey Place. On his left was Ovechkin. On his right was Semin.
"I know my job whether I'm on the Detroit Red Wings or the Russian national team," Datsyuk said. Presumably, that job will often require being the third forward high on the Russian Black Line.
The Russian Red Line was just as frighteningly power-packed. It had Kovalchuk on the left with Malkin in the middle and Maxim Afinogenov on the right. With defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Fedor Tyutin also clad in red, it made that quintet the only five-man unit among the four in Team Russia's system to be comprised exclusively of NHL players.
Elder statesman Sergei Fedorov centered Alexander Radulov and Viktor Kozlov on the White Line of three former NHLers.
On defense, Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens went through every drill without much apparent difficulty -- and with partner Anton Volchenkov of the Ottawa Senators. Afterward, though, he conceded that he is not at 100 percent because of an undisclosed injury that caused him to miss the Canadiens' last two games before the Olympic break.
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