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Ovechkin-Malkin-Semin…that’s a pretty dangerous line

Feb 10, 2014, 10:17 AM EST

Alexander Ovechkin AP

SOCHI, Russia — Alex Ovechkin on one wing. Evgeni Malkin in the middle. Alex Semin on the other wing. That was one of the Russian lines today at practice, the team’s first here in Sochi with both KHLers and NHLers.

Not a bad trio, right?

Semin, of course, Ovechkin knows well from their time together with the Washington Capitals.

“I know him right away,” said Ovechkin. “As soon as I get the puck on the left side, I know where he’s going to be.”

As for playing with Malkin: “He likes to control the puck, control the game.”

Malkin probably won’t mind the opportunity to set up two of the top snipers in the game, either.

Meanwhile, Pavel Datsyuk (groin) didn’t practice today, and it’s still not known if he’ll be ready for Thursday’s opener versus Slovenia. Head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was hopeful, but offered nothing definitive.

If healthy, Datsyuk will likely center wingers Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov, based on what we saw today.

Related: Are expectations too high for Russia?

  1. valoisvipers - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Geno will be working hard in the corners, while the other two stand in front of the net with their sticks in the air, waiting for a puck.

    • ibieiniid - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      and somehow…. it’ll work.

    • beginthecry - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:38 AM

      lol, you haven’t actually watched any of them play recently, have you? semin has been a brilliant paymaker, ovi has created his own goals.

  2. esracerx46 - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    The biggest flaw for all of those players is a lack of defense. None of them do it. Malkin is not good on faceoffs. At the end of 2010 his career faceoff percentage was 40.2. Granted he has brought that up, but this year he is 49.8%. That’s going to be tough for the Russians. Especially since defence in general is their weakness.

    Im going to assume Datsyuk won’t play, otherwise I think they would have had him on the top line. Even out some of Semin’s and Ovechkin’s deficiencies.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      ovechkin is terrible defensively yes. semin kills penalties and has been pretty good defensively even before he left washington though and will make up for ovechkin’s deficiencies. malkin at center actually backchecks quite a bit. he starts the rush himself from behind his own net a lot as the 3rd man back, he is weak at faceoffs though…you can bet they wont be out there for a lot of defensive zone starts if they make it to the medal rounds, not sure they will worry about it against slovenia. i see it as a playmaker (malkin), triggerman (ovechkin), and safety valve (semin) kind of line. i dont know if you want datsyuk out there against the best the other team has defensively. i would think as a coach you save him for matchups against the opposing offensive lines and give him defensive duty with a hope for some offense from turnovers….they wont need him as much to generate scoring while his defensive prowess is a rarity on the russian roster.

      • patthehockeyfan - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:43 PM

        “ovechkin is terrible defensively yes.”

        A friend of mine (Pens’ fan in Pittsburgh) has a blog. He recently wrote about Ovi (and, of course, Crosby). These two lines about Ovi’s lack of defense still make me laugh:

        “And it certainly appears that when the puck is in the defensive zone, Ovechkin suddenly decides that the little Gatorade stain on his sleeve is the most important crisis in the building. One would suspect that Washington goalies dread being able to see the whites of his eyes.”

      • dcsportsfan85 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:32 AM

        Let’s be honest here. Neither Ovechkin, Malkin, Semin (nor the great Sidney Crosby) are great defensive players, but probably are not as bad as people make them out to be all the time. I’ve seen Alexander Semin play a ton (Capitals fan) and he’s not that great on defense, but don’t get me wrong he’s great (wish we never let him go).

        This is a line with size, speed, strength, a TON of finishing & play making skill and there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to play a strong puck possession game (especially on the Olympic Ice). Best defense is a good offense, because the other team can’t hurt you if you have the puck all the time. That’s probably going to be what they HAVE to do in order to be successful because they are not great 2 way forwards, nor do they have the defensive strength as some of the other powerhouses.

  3. bojangles83 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    After Line 1 and 2 then what?…..

    Canada has 4 #1 lines, which means Ovechkin and Malkin will be going up against #1 D-units each shift…

    Goodnight Russia

    • pfhockey - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      I don’t think anyone has as good of a top 6 compared to Russia. I’ve been ripping on Ovi myself most of this year because he scores a fair share of his goals on the PP. Their powerplay would probably be the best too. Their defense is mediocre though. I fel like people are underrating this team though. Depth is very important and we’ll see how other team’s role players play against Canada’s team.

    • beginthecry - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:39 AM

      And that explains your WC failures how?

  4. jkay1818 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    semin and ovi, very scary defensively. They never won anything playing together in washington. Now they are facing better competition.

    • beginthecry - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:40 AM

      this isn’t washington… they’ve won two world championships

  5. runhigh24 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Hope Malkin likes doing all the backchecking as well as all the puck retrieval in the corners.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      he’s used to it playing with neal.

    • beginthecry - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:40 AM

      semin backchecks a lot in carolina

  6. blomfeld - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    A bunch of ‘new age’ Girl Guides compared to Kharlamov, Yakushev and Maltsev ! :)

    • drl12176 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      ho won that series???? lol…

      • blomfeld - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        no friend, a ‘ho’ did not win that series as I seem to recall it was Canada … however it could be argued that were it not for Bobby Clarke’s ‘animalistic’ attack on Kharlamov, then the Soviets would have likely carried the day …

  7. snipedanglecelly13 - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Dats should center that line with ovi and kovi and Malkin centers rad and semin

    • jpelle82 - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      ovechkin and kovalchuk together would be hands down the least backchecking combo ever assembled. even datsyuk couldnt salvage the mess that would be. the two of them would just keep running into each other while circling the red line.

  8. jb8588 - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    I find it kinda humorous how Semin goes from not making the team initially to the team’s first line.

    • ibieiniid - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      kinda like how one of the most debated team Canada players, Carter, will be on the top line too. coaches man, coaches.

      • johnmr12 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        Carter has the deadliest wrist shot and snap shot in the league, including Ovechkin and Crosby. He just plays on a team that stresses defense first. With those two guys setting him up, I expect Carter to be one of the leading scorers in the tournament. I see every one of his games, and goalies never save his shot, it either hits them, goes wide, or goes in.

      • ravenscaps48 - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        Carter has a deadlier wrist shot than Ovechkin?………. thanks for the laugh. I needed it today. :)

      • blomfeld - Feb 10, 2014 at 9:16 PM

        “it either hits them, goes wide, or goes in” …

        Johnmr12 – with all due respect friend, what’s that supposed to mean ? … I mean seriously, what other possibility is there apart from the puck just vanishing into thin air ?

        just teasing you man, as I agree ‘completely’ with what you’re saying ! … I still remember Carter’s beautiful ‘snap shot’ goal against Luongo last month which won it for us in the 3rd period ! … if Canada does win gold, then Carter will no doubt be there ‘front & center’ when it all goes down ! :)

        GO CARTER !!!

    • dcsportsfan85 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:44 AM

      That’s only because they had such good chemistry together in WSH. They were usually on separate lines, but when they needed to push the play Boudreau would play Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin on the same line and it was a dominating line.

      • beginthecry - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:41 AM

        no, it’s because they played on a line with datsyuk for two world championship golds

  9. johnmr12 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    If Varlomov has a great tournament, Russia could shock everyone. From a purely skill level, they are scary. But they are going to give up a lot of scoring chances, and that’s where Varlomov will be the determining factor.

  10. imgoingtowichita - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    If the shot hits the goalie, I’m pretty sure it’s a save. Ask J.S. Giggy

  11. watermelon1 - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    People… The reason Ovechkin is deemed “not good defensively” is because he hasn’t played with any REAL or even close to real defensemen. Mike green, John Carlson, John erskine?

    And the goalies… Jeez. It’s ugly.

    Ovechkin is really not a liability on defense for the wing position. He’s average, and his hits and speed are well above average.

    It’s a shame Datsyuk is hurt, as he’s a huge defensive player and yet amazing at creating offense for him and his team.

    Can’t wait to see this team play.

    • dcsportsfan85 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:50 AM

      Well said watermelon. Except why are you ripping on John Carlson??? He’s pretty freaking good.

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