2010 Olympic Hockey Outlook: Team Russia

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2010 Olympic Hockey Outlook: Team Russia

Russia is the first of an eight-part series previewing the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Other team previews can be found here: Canada | USA | Sweden | Czech Republic | Slovakia | Finland | Mexico (Satire)

Team Russia may come into the Olympics with one of the most talented rosters ever seen. They thirst for a gold medal. Russia has never won an Olympic gold in hockey (they won it many times as the USSR before 1991).

They have to be considered the favorites coming into the games. This team has a perfect blend of young stars and experienced veterans. Those younger players will also be even better in a year from now.

The Big Red Machine has its eyes set on Vancouver.

 

Forwards

First Line

C Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

LW Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

RW Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers

 

Second Line

C Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

LW Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals

RW Alexander Radulov, Salavat Yulaev Ufa


Third Line

C Sergei Fedorov, Washington Capitals

LW Alexei Kovalev, Montreal Canadiens

RW Aleksay Morosov, Ak Bars Kazan


Fourth Line

C Alexei Yashin, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

LW Sergey Mozyakin, Atlant Moscow

RW Nikolai Zherdev, New York Rangers

 

Analysis

This has the potential to be the best offense EVER in Olympic hockey. If Bykov choses to put Ovechkin and Malkin together on a super-line, and he no doubt will, opposing coaches will be having nightmares. Add Ilya Kovalchuk into the mix and the top line will nearly be unstoppable.

Pavel Datsyuk will center a second line, and these guys are no slouches either. Alexander Semin has played will, if not brilliantly at times. Radulov has excelled on both NHL and KHL stages.

The third line is laced with veteran stalwarts, who have been the face of Team Russia in the past. Fedorov and Kovalev can still play effective hockey and Morosov has found a second career with Kazan.

Line Four is a mixture of veteran leadership and young talent. Yashin has proven he can play in both the NHL and KHL. Mozyakin has never played in the NHL but always shows up to international competitions. Zherdev is young but extremely talented.

 

Backup options

Nikita Filatov, Columbus Blue Jackets; Alexander Perezhogin, Salavat Yulaev Ufa; Danis Zaripov, Ak Bars Kazan; Alexei Tereschenko, Salavat Yulaev Ufa

 

Defensemen

First Pairing

LD Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh Penguins

RD Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens

 

Second Pairing

LD Sergei Zubov, Dallas Stars

RD Fedor Tyutin, Columbus Blue Jackets

 

Third Pairing

LD Anton Volchenkov, Ottawa Senators

RD Vitaly Atyushov, Metallurg Magnitogorsk

 

Analysis

This unit isn't nearly as flashy as the offense, but it gets the job done. Offensive force and power play expert Sergei Gonchar will be paired with the defensive skills of Andrei Markov.

The big question concerning the second pairing is will Zubov play. He has opted out of several international events in the past and his health may be a factor here. Nonetheless, if he chooses to play, he will be a big asset.

The third pairing combines defensive-minded Anton Volchenkov with passing wizard Vitaly Atyushov.

 

Backup options

If Zubov decides not to play, his replacement will almost certainly be Denis Grebeshov of the Edmonton Oilers. Ilya Nikulin of Ak Bars Kazan and Dmitri Kalinin of the New York Rangers are also candidates.

 

Goaltenders

Starter

G Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks

 

Backup

G Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes

 

Analysis

This may be Russia's strongest pair of goaltenders in some time. Nabokov is one of the top five goalies in the world, and Bryzgalov is not a bad second option. He can be inconsistent at times but is good enough.

 

Backup option

Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks

 

Coaching

Head coach

Vyacheslav Bykov

 

Final Outcome

Gold Medal. Defeats Canada 7-5 for the Championship.

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