As team rosters for the 2014 Sochi Olympics are announced we'll break down the rosters for the top competitors in the tournament and list some of the notable omissions from their squads.
|"Win this for Mother Russia!"|
With that said, here's the Russian Olympic team and some notable omissions:
Ilya Kovalchuk - Pavel Datsyuk - Alexander Radulov
Nikolai Kulemin - Evgeni Malkin - Alexander Ovechkin
Viktor Tikhonov - Artem Anisimov - Vladimir Tarasenko
Denis Kokarev - Sergei Soin - Valeri Nichushkin
Alexander Popov - Alexei Tereschenko
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Evgeni Medvedev - Slava Voynov
Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
Ilya Nikulin - Anton Belov
Some extremely talented forwards up front with Datsyuk, Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Radulov and Tarasenko. They have the explosiveness and a pretty good looking powerplay, but the Russians are bringing more KHLers to the Olympics this year with 10 named to the squad including 7 forwards. From what we've heard, Kokarev, Soin, Popov, and Tereschenko are 4th liners so while you might not see much of them, they'll have an important role if Russia wants to succeed. Look for those top two lines to play plenty of minutes on home soil which should make for some entertaining hockey.
Not Returning From 2010: Maxim Afinogenov, Sergei Fedorov, Viktor Kozlov, Alexei Morozov, Alexander Semin, Danis Zaripov, Sergei Zinoviev
Notable Omissions: Alexander Semin, Nail Yakupov, Alexander Burmistrov, Sergei Mozyakin
Semin is the biggest snub here and he must have done something to piss off the Russian selection committee. While he's battled some injuries this year, he did put up 44 points in 44 games last season so him being left off is quite the surprise. Yakupov hasn't looked great this year playing right bench for the Edmonton Oilers which probably has something to do with the young snipers omission. Burmistrov is an NHL-defect with 32 points in 43 games for Ak Bars Kazan so it's surprising the talented winger was left off the roster for other KHLers. Speaking of others KHLers, Sergei Mozyakin is leading the KHL in scoring with Magnitogorsk and has led the Russian Superleague/KHL in scoring four times in his career. He's only 32-years-old and clearly knows how to generate offence on the big ice. Guess that's not good enough.
Russia's defence will be the weakest part of their game and they'll be relying heavily on 35-year-old, Andrei Markov, to shoulder quite the load. With 7 left-shooting d-men, the Russians do have some big boys with all eight over 6'0" and five over 212lbs. They might not be the most mobile on the big ice, but at least most of them should be familiar with the top opposition in the tourney.
Not Returning From 2010: Sergei Gonchar, Denis Grebeshkov, Dmitri Kalinin, Konstantin Korneyev, Anton Volchenkov
Notable Omissions: Sergei Gonchar, Dmitry Kulikov, Anton Volchenkov
Sergei Gonchar is 39-years-old, but is a Russian defensive staple. It's kind of weird not seeing him on the roster but at his age his production has slowed and Markov and Voynov will be the powerplay d-men on this squad. Kulikov's got a bomb from the point, but his point totals have dropped off the past few seasons as well as his defensive play. Volchenkov's been injured this year, but he's still a defensive rock and his omission is more glaring than others. He used to be a great shutdown guy that could throw his weight around but his play has steadily dropped off in recent years so it's time to let the young pups play.
The Russians are pretty strong in net considering there's only been 3 goalies to start 12+ games in the NHL this season. Bobrovsky and Varlamov will lead the team from the crease while KHLer Eremenko will play the role of cheerleader. Bob and Varly are easily the top Russian netminders in any league so the Russian's didn't have to debate this too much and it looks like Varlamov's got the starting job as he's shined with 19 wins, a 2.35 GAA and .927 SV% this year.
Not Returning From 2010: Ilya Bryzgalov, Evgeni Nabokov
Notable Omissions: Andrei Vasilevsky
The World Junior star could have got the experience of the Olympics at a young age similar to Varlamov in 2010. He appears to be the future of Russian goaltending having represented them at three U-18 and three U-20 tournaments.
Russia is always dangerous because they're loaded with talent, but their depth is never quite there for the all-around game. If they can get good goaltending in the tournament they should medal on home ice as they will have no trouble finding goals. We just hope things don't get out of hand...