Team Russia 2010

I really need to get into the groove of writing some stuff on weekends. So much goes on…including Russian GM Vladislav Tretiak saying that half of the team will be composed of players from the KHL. With that in mind, here are my picks for Russia’s team in the 2010 Olympics:

Goalies

  1. Nabokov
  2. Bryzgalov
  3. Varlamov

The only real battle here is going to be between Nikolai Khabibulin and Varlamov. Khabibulin is on his last legs and very injury prone. Even if he was picked over Varlamov, I am not sure that he would even go considering it will be in a backup role. Nabokov is the starter right now but I could see him being replaced if he struggles early.

Defense

  1. Sergei Gonchar
  2. Andrei Markov
  3. Anton Volchenkov
  4. Sergei Zubov
  5. Dmitri Kalinin
  6. Vitali Vishnevsky
  7. Anton Babchuk

Here is where the KHL influence begins. Four former NHLers help round out what could turn out to be the weak link in this powerhouse. Gonchar, Markov and Babchuk’s booming shot will provide some assistance to the offense, although both Malkin and Kovalchuk occasionally play the point on their respective team’s powerplay. If Sergei Zubov remains healthy (21 points in 29 games so far), he will also contribute to a good core of puck moving defensemen. Volchenkov, Kalinin and Vishnevski will provide the much needed sandpaper. I picked Babchuk to make it over Grebeshkov as the replacement for whichever defensemen gets hurt first.

Forwards

  1. Ovechkin  Malkin  Kovalchuk
  2. Semin  Datsyuk  Radulov
  3. Filatov  Morozov  Zherdev
  4. Kovalev  Yashin  Frolov
  5. Brylin

Wow. This is going to one tough team to stop. Their first line alone has the two best goal scorers in the League in Ovechkin and Kovalchuk, and the reigning Art Ross and Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Evgeni Malkin. The next features arguably the best all around player in the League, Pavel Datsyuk, with two more pure snipers on his wing, Alexander Semin and Alexander Radulov. Semin is very streaky, but Radulov has been off to another very good start in the KHL with 35 points in 27 games. The third line is the KHL line; Nikita Filatov, Alexei Morozov and Nikolai Zherdev. Filatov has had a great start since his loan to the KHL two weeks ago, and will be out to prove that he can make an impact against NHL players. Since his last season as a Penguin in 2003-04, Alexei Morozov has 312 points in 294 games in Russia. Zherdev has not been as hot to start the season as recent defectors Filatov or Radulov, but with Tretiak’s comments, I doubt he will be left off.  Kovalev, Yashin and Frolov all have a reputation of being less than motivated at times during their career so the fourth line has the potential to a huge disappointment, or dominant due to their size and skill.

Verdict: I am pretty scared of a potential matchup between the Canadians and Russians. Canada is definitely a better team from top to bottom, but I do not think that they have the game breakers and quick strike offense that Russia possesses.

 

 

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