While North Americans marvel at the skills of Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin on a nightly basis, it's a little harder for the folks back home to keep track of their top exports to the money league.
The Malkin and Ovechkin showdown of Monday night was featured in a Russian newspaper Tuesday, with a short but concise report on how they fared in their first ever match against each other in the NHL.
While the Russians seem to understand the importance of the game, one has to wonder what was going through the NHL schedule makers mind when they put this on one the schedule board.
A Monday night game, up against the religion of Monday Night Football probably wouldn't fare well at the best of times. But add to that the rather meagre offerings of the NHL broadcast partners these days and the dwindling audiences they provide and you have to wonder if the league is not wasting its marquee playes.
Beyond the obvious itnerest in Malkin and Ovechkin, the Pens brought a rather entertaining hockey team into Washington for the game, which turned out to be a barn burner of a finish as the Pens came from behind to steal away the win.
It's a pity no one at the NHL had the foresight to plan the schedule so the game could have at least been featured across Canada on TSN, Monday night they are committed to NFL football, but you can bet had they carried the game the ratings would have been a postive trend.
The folks in Russia knew the game was a big one, as did the hockey fans of Canada, the quetion is did anyone in the head office understand the opportunity lost on Monday night.
Below is the article from the homeland of the two stars of the night, they're paying attention in Moscow, too bad they don't seem to be doing the same in New York!
Russian Hockey Players Shines in the NHL
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The two best-known Russian hockey players working overseas, Evgeny Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, faced off for the first time in a National Hockey League championship. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 4:5, and Malkin was named best player of the match. A week before that, Ovechkin had been named one of the three best players of the championship, along with the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur and Tampa Bay Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier.
Malkin and Ovechkin, who played together on the Russian Olympic team and the Russian world junior team, greeted each other warmly before the game and gave a joint interview to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Malkin using a translator), which became part of extensive coverage of them in that newspaper.The match was broadcast throughout the North American continent and extensively advertised as the showdown between Ovechkin and Malkin's teammate, popular Canadian player Sid Crosby. Crosby is leading in the fans' vote for the all-star game, in which Malkin ranks 14th (third among Russians, after Ovechkin and Maxim Afinogenov of the Buffalo Sabers). Last year, Ovechkin beat Crosby to be named rookie of the year.
It was Malkin who stole the show yesterday, however, when he scored the decisive point. After that he was sent to the sidelines for a foul, but played again in overtime.
Евгений Малкин блеснул ярче звезд
For those with Russian language skills, here's the link to a lengthy story on the match up.