While the Washington Capitals season ended painfully last night after a 5-0 game seven loss to the New York Rangers, Alex Ovechkin will continue playing hockey. The Capitals revealed before his final press conference of the season that Ovi has been invited to Finland to join his comrades on the Russian National team competing in the 2013 World Championships. He will be flying over this afternoon.
“This morning they just called me and asked if I’m healthy and ready to go,” Ovi told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “I said ‘Yeah, I’m ready to go.’ I’m still wanting to play. I don’t want to take off, I don’t want to watch games. I want to play hockey.”
“I’m in good shape,” he added. “Mentally I think I’m ready.”
Evgeny Kuznetsov in Team Russia practice facility. (Photo credit: Sovetsky Sport)
4PM UPDATE: A few days ago Team Russia head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov announced three goalies and 25 skaters, including Kuznetsov, who “would be travelling to Helsinki and Stockholm for the Worlds Championship tournament.” Not all of the players named by the coach will be on the Team Russia’s final roster. IIHF rules allow for the minimum of 15 skaters and 2 goalies to be named no later than today; players can be added to the roster at any time during the tournament, up to the maximum of 22 skaters and 3 goalies. While some teams have filed their full rosters, Team Russia is taking an incremental approach. They announced today the first group of players – 3 goalies, 5 defensemen, and 11 forwards. Evgeny Kuznetsov does not appear on the list. Kuzya may make the team later, especially if some of the Russian players currently involved in the Stanley Cup playoffs do not make a quick 1st round exit.
ORIGINAL STORY: Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has been named to Team Russia for the 2013 IIHF World Championships, which begin Friday in Sweden and Finland.
Kuznetsov won gold in last year’s World Champs while playing in a limited role. Kuzya has been less than impressive in the last few months, earning Joey Crabb treatment by national team coach Zinetula “Bill” Bilyaletdinov, playing on the fourth line at the EuroHockeyTour tournament in Czech Republic. To his credit, Kuznetsov looked impressive in his limited ice time, which probably secured him a spot on the national team. After the tournament, Kuznetsov, who has been encouraged to tweak his game to a less flashy, more steady team style by Traktor coach Valery Belousov, complained about the “black cat on his shoulder” that’s been bringing him bad luck for the last half of the season. He told reporters that he has set a conditioning program for the off-season to come back in a better shape for the beginning of next season.
The entire Russian national team was clearly elated to win World Championship gold this year, dominating their competition along the way and winning their final game 6-2. While there was a lot of the expected hugging and jumping around, former Cap Semyon Varlamov was especially overexcited, which led to a small mishap when he was handed the trophy.
Alex Semin has been relatively quiet since joining the Russian national team for the World Championships, recording only assists in his two games played before the final gold-medal round. Semin showed up for Team Russia in a big way today, scoring twice and recording one assist to lead the team to a 6-2 win, securing their first World Championship gold medal since 2009.
Peter Bondra holds up the 2002 World Championships’ trophy.
By beating the Czech Republic 3-1 in the second semifinal of the World Champs, Slovakia earned the right to play Russia, who defeated Finland earlier Saturday, for the gold medal. The Slovakians have won the Worlds once, in 2002, when they upset Russia in the final. Capitals legend Peter Bondra scored twice in that game, including the game winner with less than two minutes left in the third period of play.
Pavel Datsyuk seemed tired, but satisfied, following Russia’s dominant 6-2 win over the Finnish national team. He did not score in the game, but with the victory, Russia will now have the opportunity to win its first World Championship gold medal since 2009.
His good mood did not mean, however, that he wanted microphones in his grill. “Don’t too close,” he said, watching the microphones. “It’s not ice cream, guys.”
Ovi celebrates his goal. (Photo credit: Championat.com/Getty Images)
Despite allowing the first goal, the Russians dominated the Finns for almost the whole game, winning 6-2. Evgeny Malkin scored a hat trick, while Alex Ovechkin, Denis Kokarev and Sergei Shirokov each added a goal of their own.
Top-seeded Team Russia defeated Team Norway today with a score of 5-2 to advance to the semifinals of the World Championship being held in Stockholm. Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin joined their national team on the ice for the first time and had an immediate impact, with Ovechkin scoring the first goal of the night and Semin providing two assists.
Ovechkin broke a World Championships pointless streak stretching back through all five games of last year’s tournament, scoring nearly eight minutes into the game. His tally began with teammate Alex Semin going strong to the net with the puck, allowing the Russian superstar to collect a rebound behind Norwegian goalie Lars Haugen. Ovechkin then knocked the puck in when he attempted to center the puck.
Kuznetsov poses with the second-place silver platter. (Photo credit: Francois Laplante)
After defeating Canada 6-5 Tuesday, Team Russia returned to Calgary’s Saddledome on Thursday night to take on Sweden in the WJC’s gold medal game. Russia struggled from the get-go and only found their game in spurts during the third period.
The shot statistics tell the tale. Russia went without a shot on goal for the first 12:34 of the game, and at the end of the first period Sweden had outshot them 17 to 3.
The second period was even worse, as Russia managed to throw only one puck on net. By the end of the third period, Sweden held a 50 to 16 shot advantage. The game, however, remained scoreless.
In overtime, after outshooting Russia 8-1, Mika Zibanejad scored the golden goal on a breakaway, giving Sweden its first U-20 championship in 31 years. Caps prospect and captain of the Russian WJC team, Evgeny Kuznetsov, returned to the bench, crouched over, and weeped.
“Canada, I can’t hear you.” (Photo credit: Elena Rusko)
One year ago in the WJC gold medal game, Canada held what seemed to be an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Team Russia heading into the third period. During the second intermission, Head Coach Valery Bragin pleaded with his team to respond, and respond they did. Russia stormed back– riding three assists by Evgeny Kuznetsov to win the gold medal game 5-3 and shock the hockey world.
Entering the 2012 WJC, Russia intended to prove that last year’s win over Canada was no fluke. Despite being the defending champions, the team still held underdog status. Kuznetsov, Russia’s captain and the only returning player from 2011, netted his second WJC hat trick in three games, pushing Russia to a 6-5 win.
After the game, Allhockey.ru’s Andrey Osadchenko spoke to Kuznetsov and filmed his entire Q/A with reporters. Below the jump, I offer a translation.