Today, the World Junior Championships are set to begin in Buffalo, New York, and RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has translated a fantastic one-on-one interview between Sport Express’s Yuriy Golyshak and Capitals 2010 First Round Pick Evgeny Kuznetsov. Warning: it’s another long one.
In the article translated below, we learn even more crucial information about Kuz including his nagging shoulder injury, his thoughts on the slash Braden Holtby delivered to him during Caps Development Camp, and his experience being drafted by Washington. On top of that, we also learn about Kuznetsov’s half a year of driving without a license, his love for McDonald’s food, and his embarrassment on never seeing Alex Ovechkin play live. Check out all of that and more below the jump.
Today, Russia’s 27 game World Championships winning streak came to a devastating end in a post-olympic rematch against Jaromir Jagr’s Czech Republic team. And much like the match in the Olympics earlier in the year, the pivotal play of today’s World Championships gold medal game was a huge Alex Ovechkin hit. But this time, it was the Russian Machine accidentally laying out and injuring one of his own teammates, Sergei Fedorov (above), which led to Tomas Rolinek’s game winning goal in the second period. Riding stellar goaltending from Tomas Vokoun and an incredible team defense, the Czechs took a 2 goal lead into the third period that they would never relinquish. Our beloved Ruskies fall to the Czech Republic 2-1. Silver has never tasted so bitter.
Like one would expect, the Russians came out and played with fire. But much like the Canadiens/Capitals series, most of Russia’s chances came from the perimeter. And the Czechs waited and pounced on any mistakes Russia made. A sense of real urgency only revealed itself towards the end of the third period. And by then it was too late for Russia.
Oh, the off-season. While the Stanley Cup contenders whittle each other away, we Caps fans are left to look at the Russian media in confusion. Today’s scrum over Alexander Semin smoking might set the standard for our hockey coverage between now and September. So, yay.
Using Fedor Fedin’s masterful translation skills and cultural insider status, we trace this thread to its beginning. It all started when Ovie and Semin were in Russia before the World Championships. They were dining at a restaurant when the intrepid and not-at-all-unscrupulous Russian press snapped some photos of Semin smoking a cigarette. That’s when the insanity began.
CAVEAT: This isn’t exactly Dmitry Chesnokov-caliber journalism. Let’s have a grain of salt and throw back this tequila shot of “news.”
The wounds from the Caps’ round-one playoff loss are still raw, but we are on the mend. The downtrodden leader of the Caps’, Alex Ovechkin, has linked up with his countrymen to mend some of those wounds. The world championships began this weekend in Cologne, Germany, reuniting Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, and Alex Semin with their former teammates, Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov. Today’s match found the Capitals Russians facing off against the Slovakians, coached by former Caps benchmaster, Glen Hanlon.
The Russian goalie, massive Vasili Kosechkin, did not face a flurry of pucks until late in the second period. When the Slovaks finally mounted their offensive attacks, a sneaky wrister from former Capitals farmhand Ivan Majesky threatened to start a scoring spree. The Russians managed to hold off the Slovaks’ recovery, earning them a first round win– Alex Ovechkin’s first in four games.
Here are some reflections of the Canada and Russia game in the words of players, coaches and famous analysts back home in Russia. All quotes were translated by Fedor Fedin and pulled from interviews by “Soviet Sport,” “Sport-Express,” & “Sports Day By Day.”
Vyacheslav Bykov, Russian Head Coach:
“You can’t “order” the result. It’s a sport. We were in a situation where we met one of the best teams in the world in the quarterfinal and couldn’t win. What will be the consequence? I don’t know. I think, our successors will give a balanced grade for this. I don’t think that the decision to start Nabokov was a mistake. All the players of the Canadian team put very big pressure on us and we had to get out together. With Zhenya. [Ed. Note – Zhenya – short form of Evgeny]. […]
All teams had the same conditions and I think that now it doesn’t make any sense if we blame tournament system. It’s hard to say, did additional game against Germany help the Canadian team? Anyways, I have never seen a team who ran 60 minutes without a break. Everyone wanted to see the Crosby / Ovechkin duel. Everyone made a hullabaloo about it, but the match is the game between teams. We tried different lines but the pressure by the four Canadian lines were much higher than ours”.
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?)
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