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Russian coach changes mind, will use Radulov

Feb 16, 2014, 7:01 AM EDT

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Alexander Radulov #47 of Russia reacts as Joe Pavelski #8 of the United States celebrates scoring a third-period goal during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Getty Images

The United States scored both of its regulation goals on bad penalties taken by Russian forward Alexander Radulov during America’s 3-2 shootout victory on Saturday. So naturally, Russia coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov wasn’t happy with Radulov after the game.

Bilyaletdinov, speaking through a translator, suggested the former Preds forward should be scratched ÔÇťamong other things.”

It turns out that Bilyaletdinov has changed his mind because Radulov is playing against Slovakia and projected to skate alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, according to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.

Radulov has excelled at the KHL level for years and has nine goals and 34 points in 33 games this season. At the same time, if Bilyaletdinov was going to make a statement, this was the time to do it. Russia is set to play a Slovak team that wasn’t highly regarded going into this tournament and failed to beat Slovenia.

Russia should be able to win this game with or without Radulov, but it looks like Bilyaletdinov has decided to stick with him.

  1. jimw81 - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    He’s just confirming his trip to Serbia.

    • lateralous - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:29 AM

      Russia is exiling people to Serbia now?

      In all seriousness, I think this call came from higher up than the coach. I know Russia wanted a KHL presence on their team, so benching one of their best was probably out of the question.

  2. lonespeed - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    We all know what he did to his coach when he mentioned he might be benched:

  3. pastabelly - Feb 16, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    If Russia weren’t the home team, they wouldn’t be a threat. They’re just not that good.

    • lowenni - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Yup, Ovi, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk and the rest like Tarasenko and Semin just can’t play hockey at all. Not good at all.

      • slickdemetrius - Feb 16, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        But are they good in playing as a team or as individuals?

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