Monday, September 06, 2004

Ovechkin’s coming out party is a big gift to Russian squad

Alexander Ovechkin gave the Russian hockey powers cause to be optimistic for the future. The young phenom of Russian hockey did not look out of place in the Russian red white and blue, as he helped propel the Russians on to a 5-2 victory over Slovakia. Sharing the stage with the likes of Alexi Yashin, Artem Chubarov, Alex Kovalev and Sergei Samsnov, Ovechkin scored a goal and made some big hits to add to his much ballyhooed reputation.

Playing on the fourth line, he made the best of his ice time. Ovechkin was a complete player on the night, crashing the Slovaks into the boards, back checking and showing no fear as he went for the Slovak net. Taking full advantage of his chance to play with some of the NHL elite players he put on a show that many were amazed by. Ovechkin who was drafted by the Washington Capitals has yet to sign a contract, but his performance should help get the Capitals back on the phone shortly

Other goal scorers for the Russians were Alexi Yashin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Kovalev and Sergei Samsanov. The win sends the Russians back into the States to take on Team USA in the quarterfinal match on Tuesday night. The loss the third for the Slovaks in the tournament means they will take on the Canadian team, Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre. And while many might think that the Slovaks will be an easy touch, Pat Quinn is not taking the team lightly.

For the Russians the rematch with the Americans should make for an entertaining game. The Russians defeated the Americans three to one last week, so the Americans with their title and pride on the line will be hoping to put in a better effort on Tuesday. One troublesome issue for the Russians may be the health of Darius Kasparitus, who was last spotted holding an ice pack to his leg on the bench. If Kasparitus is unable to play, that could possibly open up an opening for the Americans to exploit.

With the Americans making changes to the roster the last few days,including the controversial benching of Brett Hull, they may be a different team than the one which last played the Russians. Regardless, it should be a great game to watch as two old rivals renew acquaintances once again.

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