Team Russia became the first of the contending teams to announce their roster for the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament on Friday. While Team Russia doesn’t have as much depth as Canada (nobody does), they still have enough depth to have a few controversial omissions from their roster. We’ll analyze who was left off in a minute (FUN!).
Their goaltending will be second to none. Ryan Miller and Miikka Kiprusoff are the only two starting netminders that have a better save percentage than Ilya Bryzgalov at the moment, and he might not even be the starter:
Ilya Bryzgalov (Phoenix), Evgeni Nabokov (San Jose), Semyon Varlamov (Washington)
Russia’s defense is its weak spot. Sergei Gonchar and Andrei Markov are world class, but after that there is a drop off:
Sergei Gonchar (Pittsburgh), Denis Grebeshkov (Edmonton), Dmitri Kalinin (Salavat Ufa), Konstantin Korneyev (CSKA Moscow), Andrei Markov (Montreal), Ilya Nikulin (Ak Bars Kazan), Fedor Tyutin (Columbus), Anton Vonchenkov (Ottawa)
Russia’s top six forwards are arguably the most talented of any country in the world. Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Semin and Afinogenov should form their top two lines and that should scare Canada:
Maxim Afinogenov (Atlanta), Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit), Sergei Fedorov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk), Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta), Viktor Kozlov (Salavat Ufa), Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh), Alexei Morozov (Ak Bars Kazan), Alexander Ovechkin (Washington), Alexander Radulov (Salavat Ufa), Alexander Semin (Washington), Danis Zaripov (Ak Bars Kazan), Sergei Zinoviev (Salavat Ufa)
The most notable names left off that list include Alex Kovalev, Alexei Yashin, Nikolai Zherdev, Alexander Frolov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Sergei Samsonov and Nikolai Khabibulin. It’s also interesting to note that Russia chose nine players from the KHL. In any case, Russia is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in 2010.
And now, for no good reason…