aller

Photo: Justin K. Aller

It is silly to compare Evgeny Malkin (500+ games, Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe, Hart, two Art Ross Trophies) to Evgeny Kuznetsov (one game, 10 minutes on ice)–  even if they were born a couple hundred miles away from one other– basically the same neighborhood by Russian standards.

Then again, it’s also fun, which is why people have been doing it for awhile– including Valery Belousov, Kuznetsov’s old coach at Traktor and the man who oversaw Malkin’s development at Magnitogorsk.

In our brief conversation on Sunday, Kuzya flatly dismissed all comparisons to his much more famous namesake. But what does Geno think about it? Well, let’s take a look at today’s edition of Sovetsky Sport, where we find Dmitry Chesnokov’s interview with the Penguins’ star after Monday’s game.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

Sunday was Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s first full day as an official Washington Capital, and we were all over it. Our intrepid reporters were at Kettler Capitals Iceplex first thing in the morning, taking photos, and covering his first press conference. But we also got a couple minutes with the man himself to chat in his native tongue.

RMNB’s own Igor Kleyner and Kuznetsov chatted about his first few hours in Washington, expectations for the Penguins game, and comparisons to Evgeni Malkin. Igor’s got your translation below.

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Team Russia Knocked Out: Reactions and Sad Photos

losers

Photo: AP

It started off so well. Ilya Kovalchuk scored early in the first period of Russia’s quarterfinals game against Finland, but Finland fought back (as good teams do), scoring twice later in the period, including a goal from septuagenarian Teemu Selanne. Finland added another goal in the second period. Russia couldn’t come back. They lost 3-1.

This is no ordinary loss. After getting blown out by Canada in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, this was supposed to be different. Russia was supposed to medal. They were supposed to win gold in front of their home fans.

Instead: sadness, disappointment, blame. Again.

We’ll be updating this post with images and quotes from the players as they come in.

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ovechkin-malkin

Can someone explain to me if Russian superstars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are friends or not? First, they were doods. Then they were enemies. Then Ovi punched Malkin’s agent in the face and things got super awkward. Then they were cool again. When we last re-visited their on-again-off-again whatever-it-is-they-have, they were totally BFF.

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In the new age of sports media, if you’re a superstar who has not won a championship or somewhat improved your stats from the year before, you get branded an overpaid heel and get flogged furiously by big-name network TV analysts for not trying hard enough or being too dim to adjust your game. It’s hard to recall now, but there was once a time when Ilya Bryzgalov’s fascination with space was just a personality quirk from an elite goaltender.

But if you’re Alex Ovechkin, a man whose every breath is compared to Canada’s favorite son, Sidney Crosby, a successful position change, an attitude adjustment, and some new hardware still may not guarantee positive reviews from the media.

Let’s take everybody’s favorite oddly dressed, bigoted uncle, Don Cherry, who gave an interview to Sovetsky Sport’s Leonid Varshavsky before game five of the Stanley Cup Finals. While predicting Ovechkin will be even better next season, Cherry still managed to get a couple digs in on Ovi for “taking all the criticism from the press too close to his heart.” How dare he. Also, Cherry has no idea who Maria Kirilenko is.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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KHL Signing Open Thread

After midnight came and went, hockey’s biggest league is now out of order and NHL stars are free to sign contracts withh Russia’s KHL. Free from their contractual obligations as of now, players can sign with teams overseas (though some leagues, such as Swedish Elitserien (SEL), don’t allow temporary contracts).

Earlier, the KHL announced requirements for players signing temp deals. A single team can sign no more than three players and only one of them can be non-Russian (though teams are not obligated to dress more than five foreigners to games). They don’t count against the salary cap, but they can’t be signed to contracts worth more than the 65% of their NHL deals’ annual value.

Foreign KHL players must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Play in more than 150 NHL games in the previous three seasons;
  • Have KHL experience;
  • Be a Stanley Cup winner or finalist;
  • Be a winner of one of the NHL’s annual awards;
  • Play for their national teams on the 2010 Olympics, one of the last two World Champs or one of the last two World Junior Champs.

These rules don’t apply to the KHL teams representing countries outside Russia.

Below the jump, we give you the blow-by-blow of the KHL’s version of a free-agent frenzy.

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Everything is Happening! Pens beat Caps 4-3 (OT)

Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Yawn. These Washington Capitals / Pittsburgh Penguins games are always such tedious affairs. Nothing interesting ever happens.

Okay, but for real. This game was a monster. The Capitals looked wounded in the first period, surrendering easy goals early and firing just four shots on net. They came back in the second transformed and reinvigorated. After Mike Knuble crashed the net and just barely missed a goal, the offense turned on. The Capitals regained the shot lead and kept their foot on the gas until the very end.

No one challenged Kris Letang on the power play, so he had a great lane and great screen on the game’s first goal. James Neal flicked one past Neuvirth right after a face off to make it 2-0. The game was six minutes old.

In the second, Dennis Wideman set up Brooks Laich for a crucial goal during 4-on-4. Alex Semin cleaned up Mathieu Perreault’s rebound to tie the game and blow our freaking minds.

In the third, Alex Ovechkin caught a wide pass from Alex Semin and beat Marc-Andre Fleury to open up a lead. James Neal finished off a brilliant zone entry by Evgeni Malkin to knot the score again. That tie took us all the way into overtime, where Malkin casually tipped in the game-winner. Pens beat Caps 4-3 (OT).

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The NHL is Back on Russian Airwaves

After long negotiations, the Russian National Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) has secured the rights to broadcast the NHL on their sports channels (free SD Russia 2 and cable HD Sport 1).

Back when RMNB was in its infancy, I described what it was like to be a fan of the Washington Capitals in Moscow. Staying up until 6am and searching the internet for feeds of Caps games (where there’s no guarantee I will hear Joe B. and Locker), is neither convenient or healthy.

Understanding this shortfall, the NHL started offering a Russian version of their website this season, and they allowed Europeans to watch games on NHL GameCenter Live. The VGTRK deal — which was completed in November — is another step towards globalizing the NHL.

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Alex Semin: Bettman Has Never Been to Siberia!

Alex Semin

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

In his first game back since January 8th, Alex Semin led the Capitals with four shots on goal in 17:47 of ice time. After a 12 game layoff that stretched over 26 days, Sasha Minor looked rusty and missed on several golden opportunities. The Capitals fell to the Sharks 2-0, and endured their eighth shutout of the season.

After the game, SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov caught up with Semin and asked him how he felt in his return, his thoughts on Bruce Boudreau’s trap, and what it’d mean to him to open next season in Russia. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation below the jump.

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Alex Ovechkin: “Hang On, Malych. Such is Life.”

Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom look for revenge on Matt Cooke.

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

In Sunday’s matinee against their most hated rival, the Washington Capitals had their second straight dominant performance, beating Pittsburgh at home 3-0. Since they lost to the Pens in game seven of the 2008-09 playoffs, the Capitals have won six out of their last seven meetings and have outscored the Pens 29-17 during that same span.

Unfortunately, there were two key incidents that overshadowed talk of the game itself. First, Tim Wallace tried to exact revenge on “Danger” Dave Steckel for his incidental contact with Sidney Crosby in the Winter Classic. And second, perrenial agitator Matt Cooke tried to take out the Great 8 with a knee-on-knee collision late in the third period.

After the game, SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov spoke with Alex Ovechkin and asked him what he thought about Cooke’s hit, the physical nature of hockey, and Evgeni Malkin’s season-ending injury. Below the jump, RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has the translation.

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