Russia made it five straight wins in this World Championship with a 6-1 thrashing of Denmark. Man of the match Pavel Datsyuk bagged three goals.
Vyacheslav Bykov has heaped praise on the Denmark national side on many occasions, describing them as a good, well-disciplined team with a superb coach behind them, and so all expected that the Russia camp would take this meeting very seriously, and the Russia coach would ensure his players would keep playing to the very end. And indeed, that is exactly what happened.
The Danes played as expected: defending in strength, hoping to hit Russia on the counter, and trying to avoid any schoolboy errors. However, when you are up against Team Russia any mistake is enough. Leave Malkin unmarked by the pipe – he scores. Allow Datsyuk a little freedom – another goal.
Pavel still needs to acclimatize, of course, but nonetheless it is obvious he is in fine form, almost seamlessly linking up with new linemates Evgeny Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.
“We liked this troika,” noted Bykov. “These guys tried to play constructive, positive hockey, and they produced a lot of combinations, especially in the third period, and all this despite having to get used to each other during the course of the match.
Commenting on Datsyuk’s performance, the coach was in no mood to be economical with his praise:
“We have complete faith in all our players. I think they enjoy being in this team. It’s very important to strike a balance, so that their natural desire to produce beautiful hockey doesn’t affect our finishing.
And now for the question which fascinates everyone: the choice of goaltender for the next game.
“Vasily Koshechkin had a solid game, with no mistakes,” said Bykov. “and now we face a difficult choice, because Semyon Varlamov has also been playing with confidence. Most probably we will choose one of the two, but Sasha Yeremenko will keep himself prepared for any eventuality.
None of the opponents now awaiting Russia will be pushovers. Ahead lies the game against the Finns and then we will have the play-offs.
“We even treated this game against the Danes as preparation for the play-offs,” explained Bykov. “Because if you take a casual approach to defending, you are asking for trouble. We are putting all emphasis on this. If you noticed, in this match every player was trying to play his part in defense, and that is very pleasing.”
After the match some players refused to speak to the press, still offended by the appearance on the Internet of a clip showing a group of players allowing themselves a cigarette or two while relaxing in a city center restaurant.
Alexei Shevchenko, Cologne