Rob The Hockey Guy

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Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Russia

Image Courtesy: Washington Post

Image Courtesy: Washington Post

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games gets started in less than three months so I think it’s time for a preview! The Olympics start on February 7, with the men’s Olympic hockey tournament beginning on February 12. From Monday to Thursday this week and next, Tyler Wilde, Ryan Biech and myself will be previewing the rosters from the eight contending countries (sorry Austria, Norway, Latvia and Slovenia, but you’re not important enough yet). We’ll wrap up with previewing Team Canada on November 21. Up first is the host nation, Team Russia.

Recent History

Russia finished 6th in Vancouver, losing to Canada in the quarterfinals. They last won gold at the Olympics in 1992 (competing as the “Unified Team“).

Round Robin Opponents

Russia will be competing in pool A along with USA, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Roster Prediction



Russia’s top end talent is as good as anyone’s, boasting the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk (remember him? He has 25 points in 19 games in the KHL this year). It remains to be seen where Nail Yakupov fits in with the team, if at all. Yakupov is struggling to make the Edmonton Oilers roster, but he has a lot of talent and is more accustomed to the big ice surface, so I have him on the team.

Alex Semin – Evgeni Malkin – Alex Ovechkin

Ilya Kovalchuk – Pavel Datsyuk – Alexander Radulov

Vladimir Tarasenko – Artem Anisimov – Nikolai Kulemin

Alexander Popov – Viktor Tikhonov – Alexander Perezhogin

Denis Zaripov

Nail Yakupov



Russia’s defence is probably a little bit underrated. They still have veterans Andrei Markov, Sergei Gonchar and Anton Volchenkov, but newcomers Slava Voynov and Alexei Emelin will be key contributors for them.

Andrei Markov – Slava Voynov

Fedor Tyutin – Alexei Emelin

Dmitri Kulikov – Sergei Gonchar

Anton Volchenkov

Anton Belov



The battle for the crease is between Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky. Varlamov has had the better start to the season on the ice (off the ice is another story), posting better numbers than Bobrovsky for an upstart Avalanche team. Bobrovsky was sensational last season and won the Vezina Trophy in the lockout shortened season. They might split games in the round robin, but I’m giving Varlamov the edge at this point, due to his strong play this season. Nabokov has the most experience, of course, but he’s past his prime.

Semyon Varlamov

Sergei Bobrovsky

Evgeni Nabokov

Most likely to get snubbed

I’m going to be honest, I haven’t watched as much KHL as I should to be predicting Team Russia. My picks are likely to have an NHL bias, but Russia has a lot of their best playing in the KHL at the moment. I chose 6 players from the KHL to make this team, but I probably omitted a few worthy players as well. Vadim Shipachev, Mikhail Vamakov, Denis Kokarev and Evgeny Kuznetsov were named to the orientation roster and are probably fine players, but I have only stats and reputation to go on right now. Former Winnipeg Jet (now in the KHL), Alexander Burmistrov, is also getting snubbed. In goal, Ilya Bryzgalov might feel snubbed, especially if he has a strong couple of months with the Oilers.


No team will be under more pressure to win gold in Sochi than the host Russian team. Not even Canada. Russia has never won an Olympic gold medal since the NHL began allowing Olympic participation in 1998. They are supremely talented up front but have a few questions in goal and on defense. If they are to win gold, they must gel as a team (something that has been caused into question in past tournaments) and get great performances from their stars: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk.

Other Roster Previews:

November 11: Russia

November 12: USA

November 13: Sweden

November 14: Czech Republic

November 18: Slovakia

November 19: Switzerland

November 20: Finland

November 21: Canada

November 26: Latvia

November 28: Austria

December 2: Norway

December 3: Slovenia

Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobTheHockeyGuy

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13 Response to Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Russia

  1. jorges on November 18, 2013

    No evgeny kuznetsov??

    • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 18, 2013

      Never played in North America, so I'll admit I haven't seen him play much. Have you seen him? You think he's a lock to make it?

  2. Scaleo666 on November 19, 2013

    Come on, seriously. Leo Komarov getting snubbed from the Russian roster is probably due to the fact that he has allready played over 20 games for Team Finland. So please, if you´re gonna do the preview on other than the North-American teams please check your facts

  3. Geoff on November 19, 2013

    haha no Kuznetsov? What are you on drugs? The guy was other worldly at the wjc. He played at the wc granted a for only a few games but that team was also stacked. BTW Tarasenko will probably be on a line with Kovalchuk as they had tremendous chemistry on SKA. I would have Yakupov over Kulemin any day Yak has more upside and Kulemin had one very good season and has never been able to replicate it.

  4. Joacim Antikainen on November 20, 2013

    Kuznetsov is a lock for team Russia, he’s the best talent outside of the NHL.
    Can’t wait to see my beloved three crowns go up against the likes of Russia, Canada and USA. We’ve got a fantastic tournament to look forward to :)

  5. HAHAH on November 25, 2013

    Uugh Kulemin's selection isn't about offense – it's about defense, strong two way play and penalty killing.

  6. jorges on December 2, 2013

    No evgeny kuznetsov??! I’ve been watching him play for years. Seen him play live 3 times. He is insane. 9 point game in the wjc, as well as a hat trick to eliminate canada from the tourney. Tarasenko-anisimov-kuznetsov would be dynomite. ……..but If yakupov can pick up his play and make the cut, he would fit well on a line with Kuzya as theyve played together in the past. DAH DAH RUSSIA!

  7. Team Russia Hockey Wants a Win in Homeland | Thrive Sports on December 3, 2013

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  8. OrrForever on December 12, 2013

    Dear Canucks: Win something. Oh, and when you do…by all means go on an "urban renewal" project like you did after you LOST in '11. I can't wait to see what a championship riot looks like. Your loser riot was pretty entertaining.

    • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 18, 2013

      Good catch Frank. I must have blocked those 6 glorious playoff games out of my mind!

  9. Chris on December 18, 2013

    Russia doesn't look good to me. Weak D and the goalies they have, while good careers, are struggling right now.


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