Ovechkin and Alexei Yashin share a laugh before the game. (Photo: R-Sport)
On Saturday, Alex Ovechkin traveled 45 miles from his Moscow home to participate in the fifth iteration of Ilya Kovalchuk’s charity hockey game held in neighboring Chekhov, home of KHL Vityaz. The proceeds of the game, which translates to “From Pure Heart,” raised $16 million rubles (or slightly under $500k dollars) for various orphanages.
Over the weekend, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin posted a shirtless selfie on Instagram. Again. As this is a regular occurrence, I didn’t make much of it, but just in case I asked actual RMNB Russian Igor Kleyner if there was any significance to the photo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On January 22, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
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).