NOTEBOOK: Believe the hype
Russia's Ovechkin, Malkin live up to billing
Herald Staff Writers
They came in with lot of hype. They were the top two draft picks in
the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
And with Russia's gold-medal hopes on the line, Alexander Ovechkin
and Evgeni Malkin came through.
Ovechkin, the top pick in the draft, scored two goals and added an
assist. Malkin, the draft's No. 2 pick, had the same statistics in a
7-2 victory against the United States in the World Junior
Championship semifinals Sunday night in Grand Forks' Ralph Engelstad
"Their best players were their best players tonight," American goalie
Al Montoya said. "We didn't shut them down."
As a result, the Americans won't defend their gold medal Tuesday
night. Russia will meet Canada, which defeated Czech Republic 3-1 in
the other semifinal.
The United States will play Czech Republic for the bronze medal
Malkin said the fact that the Russians had an extra day of rest
because of their bye into the semifinals helped them against the
The United States, which finished third in its group, had to play
Sweden on Saturday night.
"I think we were a little faster," Malkin said.
Team USA assistant coach David Quinn also thought not having the bye
hurt the Americans, who had at least three players suffering from flu-
like symptoms Sunday night.
"Not having the bye hurt us, no doubt about it," Quinn said.
Penalties also cost the Americans. Russia had 12 power plays, scoring
on two in the first period to jump to a 2-0 lead and three overall.
"You can't play a game of that magnitude and take the penalties we
took," Quinn said.
Team USA head coach Scott Sandelin agreed: "Today, we took some
penalties that certainly were penalties, but we took them in bunches,
which is hard to do."
The Canada vs. Russia championship game will feature some of the top
players in the tournament.
While Russia has Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, Canada can
counter with such players as Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby.
"There are marquee players on both teams, top end," Canada coach
Brent Sutter said. "We're going to continue to play our team game.
Every one on our team is important.
"The egos are going to continue to be set aside."
Said Team USA coach Scott Sandelin: "I give the edge to Canada. They
haven't lost yet, so ... I think they are a very strong defensive
team. They have good depth up front."
Mike Milbury, general manager of the New York Islanders, said he's
pleased with the recent play of Jason Blake, a former UND hockey star.
"He's always brought tremendous energy to the game, but what's
surprised me is that he's become more of a team player," Milbury
said. "He's no longer just an energizer bunny with his speed out on
the ice. He's just really matured as a player."
Blake, who played his high school hockey at Moorhead and was a
standout at UND, had his best season in the NHL in 2002-2003, scoring
25 goals and tallying 30 assists for the Islanders. He nearly matched
that performance last season with 22 goals and 25 assists.
Blake currently is playing hockey in Switzerland until the NHL
lockout is over.
Notes and quotes
The United States was in trouble when it trailed 3-2 after two
periods. Russia was 3-0 when leading after two periods in the
tournament and the United States was 0-2 when trailing after two
periods ... . Trailing by two goals, Team USA coach Scott Sandelin
pulled goalie Al Montoya with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left in the third
period. The move backfired when Alexander Ovechkin scored an empty-
net goal with 2:07 left. Later, Evgeni Malkin scored an empty-net
goal ... . Forward Patrick O'Sullivan and defenseman Ryan Suter of
the United States moved into a tie for ninth place on the Americans'
all-time games played list for World Junior competition. Suter and
O'Sullivan played in their 19th game Sunday against Russia, joining
Kelly Miller, Jeff Farkas and Mike York in the ninth spot ... .
Russia goalie Anton Khudobin made the save of the game in the win
against the United States on a delayed penalty late in the second
period. He lunged over and got the inside of his blocker on a Phil
Kessel shot. Early in the third period, Team USA goalie Al Montoya
made a big save on a 2-on-1 break. "Al gave us a chance," Team USA
assistant coach David Quinn said. "The only reason it was close
(until three late Russian goals) is because Al was playing like Al."