Dostoevsky Report: Team Russia: Forwards preview: Part I

DEC.23 -- Three days prior to Russia's opening game of the tournament against the United States head coach Rafail Ishmatov has no doubts about his forward lines combinations. World's Title holders boast four well balanced units that shall remain intact for the remainder of the tournament.

Enjoy this opening installment of three parts series:

First line: LW Ovechkin - C Trubachev - RW Polushin

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#8 Alexander Ovechkin LW
Age: 17 Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 || 02/03 Club: Dynamo Moscow || NHL: 2004 eligible
 
SKATING
10
SHOT
9
PASS
9
PUCK SKILLS
9
CHECKING
6
PHYSICAL INV.
8
Multytalented Russian at 17 is arguably World's best junior player... Outrageously skilled Ovechkin is able to accomplish things not many can at a speed very few have... Current shape: Didn't play a game for a full month prior to dressing in two exhibition contests against the Wings. Meantime fully recovered from that groin injury he got at the November's Four Nations Cup in Czech Republic. Role on the team: Was able to dominate Europe's best youngsters in previous U-20 events this season (6-8-7-15) and there's no reason why he wouldn't do the same at the Championships. Left winger on club's most explosive unit alongside Trubachev and Polushin.
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#15 Yuri Trubachev C
Age: 19 Height: 5-8 Weight: 167 || 02/03 Club: Severstal Cherepovets || NHL: Calgary Flames (164th/'01)

Scouting: Turbo is a printsized sparkplug who plays with great desire. Fast, shifty skater is an intense stickhandler who has no fear jumping into the traffic. Yuri gets brought down very often while facing against bigger defenseman and needs to improve lower body strength to minimize such accidents. A talented playmaker possesses very quick hands and excels at making plays at high speed. Has a good shot (accurate but powerless) but lacks confidence in its abilities. Plays a sound two-way game, however there's still a lot of learning for him to do. Versatily is one of his main assets, as Yuri can play all three forward positions. May follow Martin St.Louis roots, if able to overcame the size factor... Season review: Started the year on Severstal's fourth unit, but when Maxim Balmochnykh  went down with an injury Trubachev took his spot on the LW alongside Yuri Dobryshkin and Andrei Nikitenko and last time we checked wasn't about to give it back... Registered back-to-back multiple point games on Oct.13 & 15 (0g, 4a)... Centers the amaizin' TOP unit of Russian U-20 team alongside the two Alexanders - Ovechkin and Polushin. Feels extremely comfortable setting plays for Ovechkin and finishing of great Polushin's feeds. In two Four Nations tournaments this fall Trubachev racked 4 goals and 12 points in just six games. Was named a top forward in Pardubice tournament.
SKATING
8
SHOT
5
PASS
7
PUCK SKILLS
8
CHECKING
7
PHYSICAL INV.
6
Current shape: Arrived to the camp a bit fatigued, but should be in top form once the tournament begins. Role on the team: Uncontested center on the first line with Ovechkin and Polushin. A perfect plug-in player who's able to contribute at both ends of the rink. Held his No.1 spot throughout the camp.

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#18 Alexander Polushin RW
Age: 19 Height: 6-3 Weight: 211 || 02/03 Club: CSKA Moscow || NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning (47th/'01)

Scouting: Elusive and powerful skater Polushin's physically strong and able to hold off against any defenseman.Strong on the puck Polushin is able to held off opponents around the net as well as LA's Alexander Frolov. Alex has quick and heavy slap and wrist shots, he also possesses one of the better backhanders among Russian prospects. Polushin feels comfortable being in a set up role for CSKA and the U-20 team this season. However shooting more will resolve in improvement of his stats, shall raise his stock and silence the critics that labeled him as offensively challenged. Bottom line is - he needs to be more egocentric... Diligent two-way player, unfortunately his offensive potential overshadows a great deal of efforts he has been providing in the defensive zone... Season review: A key member of the TOP unit for Russian U-20 team, Polushin produced in bunches (6-2-8-10) in two Four Nations tournaments this fall and should be one of the main attractions for Russia at the upcoming WJC... For CSKA this season Alex have been bouncing between second and fourth lines, but had the most success playing alongside Nikolai Zherdev...
SKATING
8
SHOT
7
PASS
9
PUCK SKILLS
8
CHECKING
9
PHYSICAL INV.
10
Current shape: Had an interesting offensive sequence (8-2-4-6) prior to the break in RSL action and finally put an end to an extended scoring slump he was battling during season's opening two month. Role on the team: It's highly unlikely that Ovechkin and Trubachev would have enjoyed as much of success without Polushin in the two Four Nations tournaments this fall. Alexander is an integral part of Russia's TOP unit. He gains a lot of room for his line-mates by tying the opposing defenders and relentlessly driving to the net.

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Fourth line: LW Shishkanov - C Pestunov - RW Artyukhin
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#11 Timofei Shishkanov LW
Age: 19 Height: 6-0 Weight: 183 || 02/03 Club: Quebec Remparts, QJMHL || NHL: Nashville Predators (33rd/'01)
 
SKATING
9
SHOT
7
PASS
7
PUCK SKILLS
8
CHECKING
6
PHYSICAL INV.
7
Current shape: Shishkanov enjoys spectacular season in the QJMHL with Quebec. He takes advantage of the 'Q' wide open style to polish his offensive skills. Played with good intensity, sound consistency and was committed thus far - the issues he have been struggling with throughout the last two years in Russia. Role on the team: Fourth line LW alongside Artyukhin and Pestunov. Shishkanov surprised us by being picked ahead of Golovin. What to expect: Speedy, flashy and quite skilled offense-minded winger needs to be kept awake and in the right mood in order to be a sound contributor.
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#6 Dmitry Pestunov  C
Age: 17 Height: 5-10 Weight: 198 || 02/03 Club: Metallurg Magnitogorsk || NHL: 2003 eligible (RSB rank: 3rd/Dec.)
 
SKATING
7
SHOT
7
PASS
8
PUCK SKILLS
8
CHECKING
7
PHYSICAL INV.
8
Scouting: Meet one of the dark horses of 2003 NHL entry draft. Sturdy two-way highly competitive pivot. Although undersized he's fast, tough and strong on the puck and comes to play every night. At 17 Pestunov became a regular with Superleague's Magnitogorsk and made several of the club's prospects expendable. Shifty skater and efficient puckhandler possesses great offensive instincts. Maturing playmaker works hard inside his own zone and is efficiently quick in the face-off circle. Role on the team: Dmitry dominated at the U-18 level and was able to beat more experienced Semin and Golovin for the fourth line spot at the camp. However he's doomed for a limited role at the WJC, but if given decent time may surprise and move up the line-up (like he did at every level previously).
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#23 Evgeny Artyukhin RW
Age: 19 Height: 6-5 Weight: 238 || 02/03 Club: Moncton Wildcats, QJMHL || NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning (94th/'01)
 
SKATING
7
SHOT
7
PASS
5
PUCK SKILLS
5
CHECKING
6
PHYSICAL INV.
9
Current shape: Giant Russian gives a fair effort for the Wildcats this season, but struggles to produce regularly. Was surprisingly picked for the preliminary roster ahead of Minakov, but thus far proved the skeptics wrong by working well and playing with good intensity in exhibition and scrimmages. Role on the team: Fourth line RW will have to earn his ice-time by being physically involved around the net. What to expect: Big Artyukhin definitely adds size to the team, but prefers to play it smooth relying on his speed and sound skills rather than trowing his weight around.

Tomorrow: second and third lines, goaltenders.
Wednesday: defensemen.

-- Dostoevsky Report

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