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Dec. 08, 2005
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Pavel Bure Builds Up Olympic Team
There are 78 candidates to the Olympic hockey team of Russia. Half of them play in NHL now. Pavel Bure, general manager of the national team, is just back from the United States, where he talked to the candidates.
The enlarged list of Russias candidates to the Olympic hockey team sets forth 78 players with over a half of that number playing in NHL. Pavel Bure, who is the general manager of Russias team, has just come back from the United States, where he talked to some candidates. Bure saw the chief coach of the team, Vladimir Krikunov yesterday, December 7, but the final meeting on the strength of the national team is timed to the ROSNO Cup, which is played in Moscow December 15-17. Apart from Bure and Krikunov, the meeting will be attended by Krikunovs assistants Vladimir Yurzinov, Boris Mikhailov and Sergey Nemchinov and Russias Hockey Federation President Alexander Steblin. No player has refused to stand for Russia in Turin, Krikunov said.

For Krikunov, the prime concern is certain decline in forces of Russias legionaries. Twelve candidates to the Olympic team, including eight forwards, played Tuesday. Only Viktor Kozlov of New Jersey managed to score, but even his team lost to Detroit.

Of all forwards, only Alexey Yashin, who is the captain and absolute leader of New York Islanders, and Pavel Datsyuk of Red Wings are stable so far. The good news is that both of them are central forwards, i.e. hockey players of key role, where Krikunov has a narrow choice. Two more central forwards, Alexey Zhamnov of Boston Bruins and Sergey Fedorov of Columbus Blue Jackets, who have recently recovered from serious injuries, dont show staring performance, to put it mildly.

Of wing forwards, Ilya Kovalchuk of Atlanta Thrashers and Alex Ovechkin of Washington Capitals are really efficient, although even they fail from time to time. Kovalchuk, for instance, has scored no goal in the last five games. Ovechkin had a no-goal break as well.

As to the full-backs, Anton Volchenkov of Ottawa Senators, Oleg Tverdovsky of Carolina Hurricanes and Alexey Zhitnikov of Islanders inspire optimism. Others play obviously below their capacity.

First goalkeeper of Russias team at the last Olympic Games, Nikolay Khabibulin, is not at his best, but yet trusted by coaches of Chicago Blackhawks. More stable Yevgeny Nabokov of San Jose Sharks missed the yesterdays game with Atlanta because of the injury. The second goalkeeper, Ilya Bryzgalov of Anaheim Mighty Ducks, is on the rise.

www.kommersant.com

All the Article in Russian as of Dec. 08, 2005

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