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Russia unveils dangerous top power-play unit

Feb 12, 2014, 8:12 AM EDT

Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin, right, talks with forward Alexander Radulov during a training session at the Bolshoy Ice Dome at the the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) AP

We know that Team USA will start Jonathan Quick on Wednesday. American coach Dan Bylsma hasn’t revealed his starter for Saturday’s marquee game against Russia, but whoever it is will have his work cutout for him whenever the United States takes a penalty.

Russia revealed it’s top power-play unit and it couldn’t get much more imposing. Alex Ovechkin will be backed up by Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Radulov, and Andrei Markov, according to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.

Any one of those guys by himself would be a serious threat with the man advantage, which is an easy argument to make given that Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, and Markov each finished in the top-five in power-play points in either 2011-12 or the shortened campaign.

Putting Radulov in there instead of blueliner gives them another legitimate threat to score, although it also speaks to their less than stellar core of defensemen.

If all of Russia’s lines were as dangerous as that top power-play unit, then they would be the runaway favorites, but Russia is an awfully top heavy club offensively. Their top two even-strength lines are as good as any nation’s, but they arguably lack the depth of the Canadians. That disparity between the top-six and bottom-six is a non-factor when it comes to the man advantage though and given just how good that top unit is, they need it to do well to make up for their other deficiencies.

It is worth adding that their second power-play unit, while obviously not as impressive, is nothing to sneeze at. Any unit led by Evgeni Malkin has to be taken seriously as does his supporting cast of Alexander Semin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Slava Voynov, and Evgeny Medvedev.

  1. ravenscaps48 - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Odd-Man Rushes for DAYS! If they aren’t gonna score on every PP, they’re gonna give up a shorty.

  2. kastout11 - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Although he is a Penguin and I do not like him, when Malkin is not on your #1 power play unit, you know they are stacked. I agree that they will be susceptible to some short handed opportunities, but they will probably score a ton of goals on the power play.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      surprised by radulov there instead of malkin as malkin retrieves well and can set up just as well as he can shoot. malkin plays the other point pretty well for pittsburgh on their pp too. markov has a bomb from the point and radulov, ovechkin, kovalchuk can all shoot the puck of course. wondering who will be in front of the net as those 3 guys tend to play on the outside though. datsyuk will be the set-up man with plenty of trigger guys thats for sure.

    • c9castine - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      yeah i mean Malkin is probably the most important part of what COULD be called the best power play in the world right now.

      maybe they just want to spread it out, and i know they are looking for Malkin to be a bit of a two way forward for them in this tournament, but it seems silly to leave him off the right boards.

  3. stepanup - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    That is terrifying. I’m sure they’ll lead the tournament in PP opportunities too. Keeping them at even strength is pivotal.

    • 19to77 - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      I don’t know. If I’m Canada or the U.S. I’d be… well, not exactly looking forward to a penalty kill, but certainly I’d see the chance for a quick shorty. The only one of them who knows what “backcheck” means in any language is Datsyuk. The rest of them? About as useful defensively as empty friggin’ ice.

      • c9castine - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        especially on the left side where I’m sure you’ll have kovalchuk on the blue line and ovechkin inside the circle waiting for one-timers.

      • stepanup - Feb 12, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        I have a hard time believing when they’re playing in the Olympics, on their home soil, in front of their whole country, that they won’t hustle at all. I’m not sure how much you’ll even see the puck while they’re on the PP. I’d rather just stay away from it entirely.

  4. jpelle82 - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    shorthanded opportunities should be there. a misplay by markov at the point and there’s no way he’s catching up to anyone going the other way.

  5. 19to77 - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    At least he’s trying to actually skate. Ovechkin will just be standing there watching the other team score. Remember this?

  6. capsrockva - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Russia’s Power play line is crazy scary. Go US

  7. teramarus - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    If they play 60 minutes on the power play they are in good shape. Unfortunately for them, at some point…some of their players might have to play defense. Outside of Datsyuk and maybe Malkin, I’m not sure if they have a single forward who knows what the defensive zone even is.

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