Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
Always a hockey power, Russia will be sending another good team to Italy for the 2006 Winter Olympic games. How will they fare? Letís look at the roster first.
In goal they have: Maxim Sokolov, Evgeni Nabokov and Ilya Bryzgalov. Sokolov is a replacement for the injured Nikolai Khabibulin, definitely a big loss there for the Russians. While the position remains strong, there is not a lot of experience. As is always the case in International competition, a goalie is needed to step up and steal some games and these men are certainly capable.
On defence the Russians are sending: Andrei Markov, Vitaly Vishnevski, Darius Kasparaitis, Fedor Tyutin, Daniil Markov, Anton Volchenkov, Sergei Gonchar and Denis Kulyash. There is a big mix of experience and talent on the blue line. Are they as strong as some of the other teams? Perhaps not. They will be an interesting group to watch.
The forwards Russia has chosen to go to Italy are: Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexei Kovalev, Alexander Ovechkin, Alexei Yashin, Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Frolov, Evgeni Malkin, Maxim Afinogenov, Alexander Korolyuk and Maxim Sushinsky. There is no shortage of big league goal scoring talent here. The big questions are, will the team mesh and can they play at both ends of the ice, especially with a few hot dogs in the lineup.
So, where should we expect to see this team at the end of the games? If they can play as a team, donít be surprised to see them in the gold medal match.