The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/20/12 at 05:36 PM ET
Updated 6x with video and more Datsyuk quotes at 7:19 PM: Today’s bronze medal game between Finland and the victorious Czechs was a tightly-contested contest by comparison to the gold medal game.
Pavel Datsyuk registered 2 assists—on two goals by Alexander Semin, including a glorious takeaway on the 4-1 goal—and a goal of his own via an assist from Semin to salt the game away…
As the tournament-unbeaten Russians slowly stirred to life after a Zdeno Chara goal, and when the Big Russian Machine got rolling, it just steamrolled Wings prospect Tomas Tatar’s Slovaks, capturing the gold medal by a 6-2 tally.
Tatar played a spirited, plucky game, often drawing in against the Ovechkin-Datsyuk-Semin line and holding his own as a checker, save perhaps a takeaway by Datsyuk here and there, and there’s no doubt after this tournament that Tatar is at least very nearly NHL ready as a fearless forechecker, strong puckhandler and speedy skater who can hold his own against much bigger opposition…
But throughout the tournament, the Russians have prevented teams from shutting down both Evgeni Malkin’s line and Datsyuk’s line on a game-by-game basis, and with Malkin hampered a bit due to a sore left hand, Datsyuk, Ovechkin and Semin (talk about some patently unfair last-second additions to the roster, eh?) just took over, and that was that.
Statistically, Datsyuk had assists on the 1-1 and 4-1 goals and scored the 5-1 goal, finishing with a goal, two assists, an 11-and-6 faceoff record, 3 shots, a +2 and 17:24 played;
And Tatar took one faceoff, one shot, finished at a -1 and played 17:08.
For the record, from IIHF.com’s Szymon Szemberg:
MVP: Malkin. All Star Team, G: Laco, D: Chara, Nikulin, F: Malkin, Thoresen, Zetterberg.
Or, as the IIHF’s website just posted:
Individual Awards selected by the Tournament Directorate:
Best Goalkeeper: Jan Laco, Slovakia
Best Defenceman: Zdeno Chara, Slovakia
Best Forward: Yevgeni Malkin, Russia
All-Star Team selected by media vote:
Goal: Jan Laco (SVK)
Defence: Zdeno Chara (SVK) – Ilya Nikulin (RUS)
Forwards: Yevgeni Malkin (RUS) – Patrick Thoresen (NOR) – Henrik Zetterberg (SWE)
MVP: Yevgeni Malkin (RUS)
Update: Lovely, from Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov:
Just last month Datsyuk told me “I haven’t won anything for my country.” Well, Pavel, you have now #RedWings
Update #2: And it’s Expressen’s Linus Hugosson who starts the, “Gee after the way they played so seamlessly together at the Worlds, how would Datsyuk and Semin look in Detroit?” talk in earnest, in Swedish (link goes to a Google translation).
Update #4: Datsyuk spoke to IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd after the game:
Alexander Syomin shone with a pair of goals and an assist. Linemate Pavel Datsyuk added a goal and two assists, while Alexander Ovechkin, the other member of this all-NHL troika, had two helpers. Tournament scoring leader Yevgeni Malkin, who was also named Best Forward and MVP, also tallied for Russia, along with Alexander Perezhogin and Alexei Tereshenko.
“As soon as the whistle went to start the game, we believed we could win,” said Datsyuk.
The Russians tied it at 9:57 on the rush, with Ovechkin making amends for his earlier miscue. Taking a pass from Datsyuk, Ovechkin exploded into the Slovak zone on left wing and threw a beautiful backhand pass through the legs of Rene Vydareny on to the stick of Syomin, who zipped it in through Laco’s five-hole.
Turnovers continued to plague Slovakia. Datsyuk, the NHL’s king of takeaways, stripped Baranka inside the blueline and found Syomin all alone in front of Laco. Syomin made no mistake, feinting before whipping the puck into the top corner on his forehand at 15:22.
The NHL line struck again to make it 5-1 at 3:55 of the third, with Datsyuk beating Laco five-hole on a Gretzky-like set-up from behind the net by Syomin. There was no hope of a Slovak comeback anymore, even though they tried to shake things up by pulling Laco in favour of backup Peter Hamerlik.
Update #5: Datsyuk and Tatar appear in IIHF.com’s post-game clip:
Update #5.75: the Free Press’s Kirkland Crawford penned a recap, too.
Update #6: Per the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston:
“This was my Stanley Cup this year,” said Datsyuk.
Aykroyd altered his recap to reflect that comment as well:
“It’s hard to win the Stanley Cup every year,” said Datsyuk. “My Cup is that we won gold here.”
And We All Bleed Red on YouTube posted clips of Datsyuk schooling Tomas Tatar…
The Datsyuk-Semin-Ovechkin line at work…
Putting on a clinic…
Datsyuk’s tap-pass to Ovechkin, who sets Semin’s goal up…
Here’s Datsyuk’s other assist…
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