In just a few hours, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins will face off for the second-t0-last time ever before the playoffs in a few weeks. The stakes are not as high as they have been– both teams are sure things for the post-season, D.C.’s win streak has ended, and NBC’s Pierre McGuire won’t be leaving drool streaks on the glass barrier between him and the Pens bench. Still, any meeting between these two rivals guarantees an exciting game. Except that one time. But unfortunately, both squads have modified their lines to accommodate injured players. And when our hockey heroes cannot play, we must toast their immortal memory in a feature we like to call… Russian Machine Sometimes Breaks!
Alex Ovechkin and his friends have left Vancouver by now, and surely that’s a good thing. For the greatest conglomeration of hockey talent we may ever see, Team Russia played like amateurs. The 2010 Men’s Olympic hockey tournament was a disaster for the Russians, and that comes as a surprise to many of us. But why did the Russian Machine break? (Did you really think we’d let that go?)
[Ed Note: First, RMNB taught you how to correctly pronounce the names of some of Russia's Best Hockey Players. Second, RMNB taught you how to support the Russian National Team in Vancouver with Authentic Russian Fan Chants and Cheers. Tonight, In Russian Lessons Part III, we're here to teach you who the most popular, active hockey players in Russia are.
With NHL Games starting at 3am or later in Russia and the KHL starting to find more and more traction, we were interested who Russians talked about and followed the most. Would it be an NHL Player? Would it be a KHL Player? We felt this post was necessary because the media coverage in Washington makes a lot of people assume Alex Ovechkin is the most revered sportsman in the country. He has a huge following - to the point where he's been on Game Shows and in Music Videos - but you'll be surprised by what we found today. They're all yours Fedor.]
Okay, I bet if you had to pick one person to be the most popular hockey player in Russia, you’d pick Alex Ovechkin. This is a great guess, but it’s not 100% true. Let’s check what hockey players Russian users search for the most using the Russian Search Engine “Yandex.” It is the most used Search Engine (51% of search market) in our country.
Russia defeated the Czech Republic 4-2 today and it was Alex Ovechkin’s “Hit Heard ‘Round Vancouver” that forced the key turnover from Jaromir Jagr. That hit in fact led to the Game Winning Goal by Evgeni Malkin and millions of mouths – across the world – left agape in wild disbelief. So obviously, after Ovechkin’s Herculean Feat, the media was quite excited to talk to the Russian Machine. They had many things to ask. Sadly, he was not as excited to speak to them, much like the rest of the Russian Team. Can you say “Is Party Now?”
Ovie takes about a minute of Russian questions, and blows off. Ditto Malkin. Ditto 99% of the roster.
Clearly, Alex Ovechkin hasn’t had enough Big Hits in the Olympics yet. In the third period of a game that would allow the Russians to win their division over the Czech Republic, Alex Ovechkin completely laid out Jaromir Jagr which you can view in this animated gif found by Japers’ Rink. Not only that, the hit led to a 2 on 1 with Alex Semin and Evgeni Malkin. Alex Ovechkin then hustled back into the play drawing a defender, which gave Alex Semin enough room to needle a pass to Evgeni Malkin – who then managed to roof a bad angled shot past Tomas Vokoun. It gave the Russians a 3-1 lead over the Czechs at the time, and ended up being the Game Winning Goal. Russia wins 4-2. Ro-ssi-ya! Ro-ssi-ya!
Anyways, here’s what Travis Hughes of SB Nation’s Winter Olympics Blog had to say on the big hit.
Maybe Jaromir Jagr hasn’t dealt with the physical aspect of hockey much in the last two years. At the very least, he certainly didn’t look like he was ready for a Russian freight train to come rolling through his station.
CHOO CHOO!! Anyways we must extend a special thanks to the Russian Machine for letting out about 10 years of Caps Angst with that one hit. What a legendary play from a historic player. And what an appetizer for Super Sunday. Up next USA vs. Canada.
Earlier today, RussianHockeyFans.com broke the news that Team Russia’s First Line was getting an upgrade for tomorrow’s game against the Czech Republic. Alex Ovechkin & Alex Semin will now be centered by Evgeni Malkin. Talk about instant offense…
Yes that’s right, the Russians have now reunited the friends-turned enemies-turned friends again in Ovechkin and Malkin. Awesome. Also, RussianHockeyFans.com has the new Powerplay & Even-Strength Line Pairings for tomorrow as well:
New power play lines
According to Mikhail Zislis of Sport-Express, here are the new powerplay lines:
1. Alexander Ovechkin – Pavel Datsyuk – Evgeni Malkin, Kovalchuk – Gonchar
2. Alexander Semin – Viktor Kozlov – Alexander Radulov, Andrei Markov – Ilya Nikulin.
Ovechkin and Radulov were positioned in front of the goalie, screening him.
According to sports.ru, the new top two lines look like this:
1. Alexander Ovechkin – Evgeni Malkin – Alexander Semin, Sergei Gonchar – Fedor Tyutin.
2. Ilya Kovalchuk – Pavel Datsyuk – Maxim Afinogenov, Konstantin Korneev – Denis Grebeshkov.
The other two lines remain the same:
3. Alexei Morozov – Sergei Zinoviev – Danis Zaripov, Ilya Nikulin – Andrei Markov.
4. Viktor Kozlov – Sergei Fedorov – Alexander Radulov, Dmitriy Kalinin – Anton Volchenkov.
Evgeny Nabokov will start in Goal
And don’t worry, nothing’s changed on the PK. Viktor Kozlov is still one of the forwards. Man, if that’s not a chink in the armor, I don’t know what is.
Anyways, a few hours ago, Ovechkin discussed Evgeni Malkin moving to the first line with Soviet Sport’s V. Slavin. And RMNB has the translation first. Check it out:
Springtime was magical. Puck fans watched with rapt attention as the Capitals overcame a 3-game deficit to beat the Rangers, and we felt like we were living in charmed times. ”Could this be the year the Caps actually do it?”, we would whisper to ourselves in quiet corners. The team never looked better than it did during those last four games against New York, and we wondered how far it could go.
We would gather at our friends’ houses, donned in red, and we would cheer the team from afar. Tickets were just too darn expensive, so we’d need to pick our game well. Not attending wasn’t an option. The team was too good to miss. Semyon Varlamov had risen from obscurity to become the Kerri Strug of goalies (that is, lithe and successful). The trifecta of Semin, Ovechkin, and Backstrom had turned D.C. into a veritable hero city. Mike Green and his ever-shrinking mohawk was weaponeering his defense. And a young team rallied around its senior Russian, Sergei Federov.
So when the Caps moved up two games over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference playoffs, we knew it was our time. We would secure tickets to the Caps Stanley Cup finals. But everything started to go pear-shaped, and we began to worry if such a series would arrive at all. The Pens snatched the next two games, and we were in a pickle. My friends and I advanced our schedule and procured tickets to the tentative game seven of the Pens-Caps series.