Ovechkin sees 'good' fit with Malkin for Olympics
Alex Ovechkin does not want to think about the Olympics.
That was hard, though, Wednesday night as Ovechkin watched his probable future center Evgeni Malkin do his thing at Consol Energy Center.
“If we're going to play together, it's going to be a good line,” Ovechkin said of likely skating on Malkin's wing at the Games in Sochi, Russia, next month.
Malkin told the Tribune-Review two weeks ago that Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov wanted to skate him and Ovechkin on a line together — even though that was not the original plan. Team Russia faces immense pressure to win the Olympic tournament because Canada claimed gold at its Olympics in Vancouver four years ago, Malkin said.
Russian players will look to captain Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit) and Ilya Kovalchuk, who left the NHL to play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, for leadership. But Ovechkin and Malkin are expected to carry the scoring load at their third Olympics.
“Everybody in Russia knows that ‘Ovi' and ‘Geno' are the great scorers for us,” Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis) said in November before the Penguins played the Blues.
Unlike the Americans and Canadians, Team Russia will work with five-player units — three forwards and two defensemen — at the Olympics. Malkin and Ovechkin will not be two-thirds of a line but rather two-fifths of a group.
Still, the spotlight will follow them most often.
Tarasenko, 22, admitted he is among a group of young Russians that idolize Ovechkin, 28, and Malkin, 27. That would make sense given their success since the Capitals and Penguins selected Ovechkin and Malkin 1-2 at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Ovechkin was Rookie of the Year in 2006. Malkin won it the next year. Since then, they have combined to win three scoring titles and four MVPs — five if counting Malkin's playoff award in 2009.
No NHL player has scored more goals than Ovechkin since he entered the league. Only four players have recorded more assists than Malkin in his eight seasons.
They are not the best of friends, though Ovechkin insisted Wednesday their relationship “is fine.” That may have something to do with what Ovechkin envisions happening on the bigger international ice surface at the Olympics.
“He's a great passer. He can control the puck well,” Ovechkin said of Malkin. “I'm the kind of guy who likes to shoot the puck, so ...”
Malkin said he and Ovechkin expect to face opponents' top defensive pairings at the Olympics, and that should happen in Russia's second game against the United States.
Team USA is coached by Dan Bylsma, who has deployed Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin as a defense pairing against Ovechkin in Penguins-Capitals games the past two seasons. Orpik and Martin are American Olympians, and they also practice against Malkin.
Orpik said earlier this month that he would relish the challenge to form an Olympic shutdown pairing with Martin. Of course, some challenges are more daunting than others.
“Well, those are two pretty special players,” Orpik said of Malkin and Ovechkin. “I don't think you can realistically expect to shut them down as much as maybe not let them beat you.
“On that ice, in their country, they are going to be ready.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Penguins coach to meet with Malkin
- Hollidaysburg native Lafferty relishing his chance with Penguins
- Penguins assistant Martin gets new job title