Friday, December 30, 2011

WJC: A 9 Point Game, Another Injury, and An Elvis Sighting

Team Russia trounced Team Latvia 14-0 last night at the World Junior Championship in Calgary led by Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Washington - 2011) who had 3 goals and 6 assists. It was the second highest point total in a game at the tournament behind Peter Forsberg (Sweden) who had 10.

Kuznetsov wasn't the only Russian to have a massive game. Nikita Gusev (2012 eligible) potted 2 goals and added 5 assists in the romping. Nail Yakupov (2012 eligible) had 3 assists as did Nikita Kucherov (Tampa 2011). Mikhail Grigorenko, who many believe is the only challenge Yakupov faces in being the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft left the game in the third period after falling awkwardly on his left leg. Many speculate that he is done for the tournament but a Quebec Remparts teammate said on twitter that he received a text from Grigorenko and he will play in the next game. Let's hope it's true as the injury bug has run rampant among the top draft eligible players this year. Grigorenko scored once in the contest - the game winning goal.

Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevski (2012 eligible) was again solid between the pipes making 30 saves. He has now stopped all 70 shots he's faced in the tournament (40 vs Switzerland) and has two shutouts. In a game like this it's hard to give credit to a goaltender but Vasilevski was solid and made some big saves, especially in the first period when the game was still scoreless. And when Latvia pushed hard to try and break the shutout streak, he wouldn't bend let alone give it up.

Which leads us to the other end of the ice. Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (2012 eligible) was spectacular in the first period keeping Latvia in the game. But by the time the second period started, Elvis had left the building. Well, no, not entirely true. Latvian coach Eriks Miluns decided to leave Elvis in for the entire 60 minutes. The kid played the game at 14-0 like it was 1-0, still battling and trying to make saves and none bigger than the one he made in front that would have made it 15-0 on a beautiful set up by Kuznetsov that would have given him his 10th point and a place in the record book.

Now, I'm not saying Merzlikins vaulted himself onto NHL teams draft lists in a 14-0 loss because he probably hasn't. But you have to admire a kid who plays a 14-0 game like it was still 1-0. Merzlikins faced 50 Russian shots in the contest.

No comments:

Post a Comment