russian hockey team

It’s finally here. With the Olympics getting under way and the hockey starting soon, it’s time to roll out our preview of each team between now and puck drop. May the best team win.

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The basics

The Russian men’s national hockey team is currently ranked 3rd overall by the IIHF. They’re carrying 14 NHLers on their roster, they’re coached by Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, and finished 6th in 2010 at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.russia-2

Member Since April 1, 1952
Total Players 66,551
Male Players 2,833
Junior Players 63,156
Female Players 562
Total Referees 13
Indoor Rinks 386
Outdoor Rinks 2,064
Nation Population 142,500,482
President Vladislav Tretiak
Men’s World Ranking 3
Women’s World Ranking 4

Group

A, with Slovakia, Slovenia, and the U-S of A.

Roster

Goaltenders NHL Team
Sergei Bobrovsky Columbus Blue Jackets
Semyon Varlamov Colorado Avalanche
Alexander Eremenko
Defensemen  
Anton Belov Edmonton Oilers
Alexei Emelin Montreal Canadiens
Andrei Markov Montreal Canadiens
Nikita Nikitin Columbus Blue Jackets
Fedor Tyutin Columbus Blue Jackets
Slava Voynov Los Angeles Kings
Yevgeny Medvedev
Ilya Nikulin
Forwards  
Artem Anisimov Columbus Blue Jackets
Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings
Nikolai Kulemin Toronto Maple Leafs
Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Valeri Nichushkin Dallas Stars
Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals
Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexander Radulov
Viktor Tikhonov
Alexander Svitov (replacement)
Denis Kokarev (scratched, injury)
Alexander Popov
Sergei Soin (scratched, injury)
Alexander Semin (replacement) Carolina Hurricanes
Alexei Tereshchenko

Biggest names

Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin. 

Depth

Any team that can afford to leave guys like Sergei Gonchar, Nail Yakupov, Sergei Mozyakin and Anton Volchenkov (as well as Alex Semin, which has since been rectified) off their national team is pretty deep. They’re laughing in net with last year’s Vezina winner in Sergei Bobrovsky and Colorado Avalanche starter Semyon Varlamov. Their d-corps has six NHLers on it, and looks like a group that can move the puck. And if that’s the case, that’ll provide plenty of opportunities for guys like those in the “Biggest names” section to do their damage. While Russia’s depth falls off before teams like Canada, Sweden and the US, the KHL players they brought aren’t exactly jokes.

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Strengths

Firepower, dog. Straight firepower. If you love hockey, you have to be kind of excited to watch Pavel Datsyuk play with Ilya Kovalchuk. Ovechkin is the best goal-scorer in hockey and Malkin is one of the game’s biggest threats. Young guns like Tarasenko and Nichuskin can explode for a beauty at any minute, Alexander Radulov is a constant threat, and heaven forbid Alex Semin gets a puck in the slot. Their powerplay should be terrifying, but they’ll be a whole hell of a lot to handle 5-on-5 as well, especially on the big ice. Oh, and their goaltending should go in this category too.

Weaknesses

Oh, Russia. It’s always the same thing here: two-way play. The Russian stereotype didn’t come *poof* out of the blue – many of their best players seem solely focused on scoring, which as you may know, is pretty darn fun. It’s not that they don’t have any two-way players (hell, Ilya Kovalchuk is great both ways, Datsyuk is a Selke winner), it’s just that you wouldn’t say the majority of their players make defense a focus. That puts a lot of pressure on the D-men to break up rushes and get the puck up the ice, and while that group of players is just fine, I don’t think your best bet is too lean to heavily on guys like Anton Belov, Nikita Nikitin, Yevgeny Medvedev, Alexei Emelin and Ilya Nikulin against hockey’s best offensive players. That means scoring chances against, and so, here we are: two-way play (general defense) is their weakness.

Route to the Olympics

Ranked third by the IIHF, top nine get in.

Prediction

I’ve got Russia finishing in the worst possible spot for them this year, fourth. Anything can happen in a one-game elimination tourney such as this – they could just as easily win it all as not medal – but I really, really think the Americans are going to be tough to play, which means there’s not enough room in my top three for Russia.

Schedule

Times are GMT+4, (MSK – Moscow Standard Time)

Thursday, February 13th: RUSRussian Federation 16:30 SloveniaSLO
Saturday, February 15th: USAUnited States 16:30 Russian FederationRUS
Sunday, February 16th: RUSRussian Federation16:30SlovakiaSVK

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Other Previews

Canada

Sweden

USA

Finland

Czech Republic

Slovakia

Switzerland

Norway

Latvia

Austria

Slovenia

Comments (9)

  1. 13 referees for over 66 thousand players? Full time work that referee job brings in Russia. Also wouldn’t it be fun to see the Alex’s/Alexi’s face off against the Thomas’s from Slovakia?

  2. Fair assessment, I think they’ll improve on 2010 but not by much.

    Definitely worried about the 7th man. Putin and his buddies want this bad and they have the money and means to make it happen.

  3. What’s it say about the rest of your team when you have Datsyuk and 2-way play is still a weakness…

    • Yeah, I ‘spose Datsyuk deserved a mention in the paragraph. Apparently he has somewhat of a history of quality 2-way play.

  4. Is anyone else questioning Belov taking up one of their rare NHL slots? Anyone and everyone with the Oilers absorbs the stench of losing. If the Russkies get bounced early, riot, and start moping all around Socchi, I know who I’m blaming.

  5. When you listed defense in the weakness area you forgot Mr.Markov, who isn’t exactly shoddy. The larger ice will also aide puck handlers ( Malkin gave us a hockey lovers display last night against Buffalo ) and when you have possession who worries about backchecking? I think these guys will medal, the goaltending being the difference. Liked the report overall.

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