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.

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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.

Video is below the jump.

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A Timeline of Alex Ovechkin’s Summer

A photo essay.

The Capitals booting from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in early May once again got the summer off to a premature start for the boys in red and their fearless leader. After all, peak season hadn’t even begun on the Vineyard and the lakes remained chilly in the White Mountains. But we RMNB chose not to focus on these grave hardships. No, instead we’re going to fire up the Google Machine and take a look back at Ovi’s summer, which spanned a mere 121 days. Alexander embarked on many adventures including a little shirtless soccer (and what summer is complete without that), a scandal involving his midsection that had “gate” on the end for some ridiculous reason, and commercials for Canadian candy bars, which are like regular candy bars except Canadian.

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Some Leftover Photos From The World Championships

Alex Ovechkin During Practice

Thanks to our friend Dmitry, we have some leftover photos from the World Championships of Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Semyon Varlamov via the tricky Russian Internets. Most of these pictures are from a happier time: either practice or at an instance when wearing ripped jeans was absolutely necessary. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Alex Ovechkin's bloodied mouth during the Gold Medal Game against the Czech Republic.

Alex Ovechkin's bloodied mouth during the Gold Medal Game against the Czech Republic.

Tonight– thanks to our comrade at Alex Ovetjkin– we found out that the Russian Machine had more dental work done at the World Championships.  TJ writes:

In the video posted at sport.rian.ru (sport.rian.ru/sport_videos/20100524/238143601.html) Tretiak says that Ovechkin has lost three teeth in addition to the one he lost a few years ago on the upper jaw.

It happened at the end of the final game vs Czech Republic when 3 teeth were knocked out of his lower jaw.

That got us thinking… What does Alex Ovechkin’s smile look like now? Here’s our best guesses using photoshop. Make sure to click on the photos to see them at full size.

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Semyon Varlamov: Downie “Justifies His Surname”

Some time after yesterday’s drubbing of Canada, Russia’s most excellent goalie Semyon Varlamov spoke with D. Ponomarenko and P. Lysenkov of SovSport.   Together they discussed exactly how dirty that game got and any cognitive impairments that Steve Downie may or may not have.

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Semyon Varlamov stops Brooks Laich on a shot attempt. Russia vs Canada World Championships.

Alex Ovechkin is separated by an official from going after Brooks Laich while Steve Downie whisphers sweet nothings into his ear.

Alex Ovechkin is separated by an official from going after Brooks Laich while Steve Downie whisphers sweet nothings in his ear.

Well, it wasn’t exactly a rematch of the Olympics, but Canada’s defeat at the hands of the Russians might salve some of the wounds from February.  In a 5-2 thrashing, some of the Russian Olympic team beat some of the Canadian Olympic team, and it only took 78 penalty minutes to happen!

Today’s game was noteworthy in that Brooks “Lugnut” Laich opposed a ton of his current and former Capitals teammates (Ovechkin, Semin, Fedorov, Kozlov, Varlamov, Rasputin, Zhivago) and didn’t evaporate any friendships in the process.  Aside from one tense scrum and a blocked wrister from Varlamov, the friendly rivalry was not a factor in the game.  What did matter was the steady drip of penalties leaking from the referee’s whistles.  Across twenty seven penalties, the officials dealt out 78 minutes of penalty time (30 for Russia, 48 for Canada).  If this wasn’t the most litigated pro hockey game you’ve seen in a while, I do not want to see your hockey games.

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Pavel Lysenkov of SovSport.ru chatted it up with Alex Ovechkin before today’s match with Kazakhstan (it’s happening right now!).   They discuss the Kazakh team’s goalie, the win over Slovakia, the Russian team’s struggles, and Russian showmanship.

By the way, for those of you not watching (which is pretty much everyone except for Fedor), Semin has a 3-point game so far (1G, 2A), and Ovechkin already has one goal.

PL: What do you know about the Kazakhstan team?
AO: I don’t know anything about this team. The only thing I know is that Vitaly Eremeyev is the goalie there. Good, reliable goalie.

PL: Soviet Sport talked to him, and he remembers that he last played against you at the Torino Olympics [Ed. note – Final score was 1-0 Russia]. And if Kazakhstan will play as firmly as there, they’ll be able to take some points.
AO: The’ll have a chance for sure. I’m not going to argue with this.

PL: Especially if Russia won’t play better in the powerplay…
AO: I wouldn’t make such an precise decision. It was our first game. The big one is ahead. We have to organize our interactions. We have some time for this. First step is to organize our game.

PL: Finns were going to organize, too, but Denmark smashed them.
AO: A lot of teams show a high level of play at the Champs. I can’t say who’s the main contender. There are five [or] six teams who fight for the medals every time. But others are coming; they may surprise and win.

PL: Anyway, were there more positives or negatives in the game against Slovakia?
AO: Positives, for sure. We won. How? No one cares.

PL: But those last minutes were pretty disturbing.
AO: We wanted to create some intrigue. Make our fans upset. It’s hockey.

PL: General Manager of the Capitals, George McPhee, said Ovechkin shouldn’t come to Germany…
AO: If you have an opportunity to play at the Champs, why shouldn’t I play for my country? Yes, the season was tiring. But I always have force– even after the playoffs. We exerted ourselves with the Caps, but five days is enough to restore myself completely. Our break will be in the summer.

Bam.  Ovie’s not tired!  Ovie’s not afraid of Kazakhstan!  Ovie’s not afraid of Bykov’s chaotic un-coaching!

For the three people in the audience watching the game legally, let us know how it’s going in the comments below.

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Dear God, the Russian Machine does bleed red blood like the rest of us.

Dear God, the Russian Machine does bleed red blood like the rest of us.

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.

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Alex Ovechkin of the Russian National Team

Alex Ovechkin arrives in Germany wearing a Capitals Hat. (Photo via Sovetsky Sport. Top Photo via Soviet Sport)

Alex Ovechkin arrives in Germany wearing a Capitals Hat. (Photo via Sovetsky Sport. Top Photo via Soviet Sport)

(Original Story by Soviet Sport’s A. Lipkin, English translation by RMNB’s Fedor Fedin)

As of a few weeks ago, the prospects for the Russian National Team at the World Championships did not look very rosy. Injuries to Zaripov, Morozov, coupled with not very good play of the goalies in the Gagarin Cup gave Russian fans legitimate concerns. And the failure of Vancouver is far from forgotten, which will cast a negative shadow on everything regarding the Russian team.

However, the results from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were like balm to the soul of our fans. New Jersey Devil Ilya Kovalchuk, Los Angeles Kings Alexander Frolov, and Nashville Predator Denis Grebeshkov were eliminated. And the Washington Capitals struggled against the Montreal Canadiens and ended their season, thus releasing Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Semyon Varlamov to the national team.

As it turns out, throughout the season we can root for our hockey players in the NHL, but when it’s playoffs time, we are all together in wishing them defeat.

But the real question is, what’s the mood of the NHL players who are coming to the team? Especially of those who were looking for a better result in their NHL seasons.

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