The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/21/12 at 05:47 AM ET
Updated 3x at 6:03 AM: The Detroit Red Wings’ remaining participants in the World Championships, with the exception of Henrik Zetterberg (who was named to the tournament’s All-Star team in absentia) concluded their hockey seasons on Sunday, with EA Sports NHL 13 cover candidate Pavel Datsyuk capturing a Gold medal with Russia, Tomas Tatar earning a Silver medal as a result of the Russians’ win, and the non-playing Petr Mrazek earning a Bronze at the expense of Valtteri Filppula’s Finns, who laid a second egg in a row in front of their hometown fans.
And it’s with the Bronze game that we’ll start. As I said on Sunday, the Finns just didn’t play very well, with the exception of their one constant in the Valtteri Filppula-Mikko Koivu-Jussi Jokinen line, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Czechs because Petri Vehanen remained quite shaky in the net, and because the Finns didn’t really show up until the third period, when they made a 3-1 game closer but simply followed the, “Too little, too late” script to a tee.
Filppula finished the game playing 21:14, and while he registered only 2 shots and finished at a -1, he was masterful with the puck, dekeing and dangling to create space for his teammates and backing off the Czechs’ defense in doing so, skating hard, displaying a strong defensive game, working tremendously hard along the boards and taking a surprising measure of abuse because a player who’s grown by leaps and bounds over the past season spent the World Championship going to the net with the kind of gusto that the Wings need him to display next season.
Filppula’s main role in the defeat, however, came in the form of being a stand-up guy and facing the press after the game:
Update #2: Filppula didn’t shy from the microphones in Finnish, either, and while my Finnish is terrible...
• He told Iltahleti that the Finns obviously didn’t meet their expectations, and while their final push was solid, they didn’t score, and the Czechs did convert their chances;
• He told STT that he was very disappointed, and while he played through some sort of foot injury, he didn’t feel that it hampered his play;
• But he did tell YLE’s Timo Uusitalo that he enjoyed playing for Finland, though he felt that his 4 goals and 6 assists didn’t really matter in the end.
• And his comments to Hockeysverige.se’s Peter Sibner are the ones I can do the best job of translating into something readable:
“We didn’t play a bad game, but can’t trade chances,” says Valtteri Filppula to hockeysverige.se.
Helsinki: The road was paved for a bronze party in an almost sold-out Hartwall Arena, but the Czechs exploited the Finns’ weak game in front of their own goalie, and gained an upper hand as the Finns never rallied from their deficit.
“We had the puck in their zone a lot and played well, but didn’t score any goals,” said Filppula to hockeysverige.se. “And when they took a 3-1 lead, they stay home and are very good defensively. Their goalie was very good today.”
Filppula had a good tournament for Finland, but went scoreless on the ice in the weekend’s two losses. He found it hard to value his own contributions.
“I don’t know, it’s always difficult to say when the team loses, and one feels that what you wanted to be possible wasn’t,” says Filppula. “But it’s been a fun tournament to play in.”
Filppula is one of nine Detroit players who reached the World Championship’s hunt for medals, but only Russian Pavel Datsyuk and Slovakia’s Tomas Tatar left with a chance for gold. The Finnish team will get another chance next year, when the finals are slated for Stockholm.
“It’s always fun to play in the World Championship, especially at home. If we don’t go as far as we want in Detroit next year, it will of course be interesting to play in the World Championship again,” says Filppula to hockeysverige.se.
And iSport.cz did post a picture of Petr Mrazek goofing around while receiving his Bronze medal.
In the Gold medal game, the result was never in doubt despite the fact that Zdeno Chara opened the scoring for Slovakia, because the big Russian machine simply couldn’t be stopped. Evgeni Malkin only scored one goal while nursing a sore left hand, but Datsyuk registered a goal and two assists while playing alongside Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and the Russians steamrolled their way to a 6-2 victory.
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 Slovaks. He never gave up for a second, playing tenacious hockey, skating speedily with the puck, displaying superb grit and great puckhandling skills, and he actually faced the Datsyuk line pretty regularly, but he was taken to school by Datsyuk several times, and couldn’t quite catch Ovechkin or Semin while attempting to backcheck while his teammates were caught out of position.
IIHF.com’s Lukas Aykroyd provides both a narrative of the goals Datsyuk had a hand in, and he spoke to Datsyuk after the game as well:
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.
“It’s hard to win the Stanley Cup every year,” said Datsyuk. “My Cup is that we won gold here.”
Datsyuk reiterated that point to the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston...
“This was my Stanley Cup this year,” said Datsyuk.
For the Slovaks, winning Silver was more than good enough given that they were on a mission to honor Pavol Demitra’s memory, and while my Finnish is horrible, here’s an incredibly rough translation of Tatar’s comments to MTV3’s Kasperi Kunnas...
“We gave a lot of effort in the semifinals, and we consumed a lot of energy. It was hard to get ourselves fully up to play this game,” admitted Tatar to MTV3.fi.
Slovakia heartily celebrated its silver medal. The team surprised time and time again to advance against stronger opponents.
The final match was against the limit, however, when Russia skated irresistibly to the World Championship.
“We didn’t expect to reach this far in the tournament. We showed, however, team spirit, but we’re disappointed in this game. We didn’t have enough energy on defense. We’re certainly happy, though it will take a little while. We can be proud of ourselves.”
And both Tatar and Datsyuk spoke to Hockeysverige.se’s Peter Sibner as well:
“We played well throughout the tournament, but we didn’t really have the energy to defend ourselves against these guys today,” says Slovakian forward Tomas Tatar.
“We made more mistakes in this game than we did earlier in the tournament,” said Slovak coach Vladimir Vujtek at the press conference after the game. “I don’t know if we were a bit tired or we simply had too much respect [for Russia].
The Datsyuk-Ovechkin-Semin line was allowed to shine again when Datsyuk scored the 5-1 goal, and Chara’s 5-2 goal didn’t give the Slovaks more hope. Evgeni Malkin ended the final when he banged in a 6-2 goal and ended up atop the tournament’s scoring leaders.
“There was much emotion in the final period,” says Pavel Datsyuk, with a gold medal around his neck. “We’ve been difficult to stop through the entire tournament.”
Of the tournament’s most valuable player, Evgeni Malkin, Datsyuk has only positive things to say.
“Well, he was pretty good,” says a smiling Datsyuk. “He has been fantastic throughout the tournament.”
And my Russian is pretty crappy at this time of the morning, but here’s a rough translation of Datsyuk’s conversation with Sovetsky Sports’ Dmitry Ponomarenko...
For the Russian national team forward—a victory in the finals.
“I still can’t believe that I’m already a champion,” said Datsyuk, coming off the ice. “Right now I’ll go to the locker room, drink out of the cup…Maybe the feeling will come? In the meantime, all my emotions were left in the game.”
6-2 again, a major effort, as well with the other contenders…
“Yes, and it also began—we missed the beginning. Thank the Slovaks—we were well-motivated. And the score in such games is irrelevant. When finishing the fight with a four-goal lead, of course, that’s comfortable.”
The stronger the opponent played, the more powerfully the team seemed to respond…
“And the louder the fans screamed. So they were great. Thanks to them.”
Is the World Championship trophy heavier than the Stanley Cup?
“I haven’t held it yet properly? Did Varlamov fall with it? I didn’t see…”
What do you think about playing ten games under the guidance of coach Bilyaletdinov?
“Me, too! In hockey terms, [he gave us] attention to detail, discipline, team play.”
You’ve played with different linemates. Did you feel a difference?
“I enjoyed all of the game. Maybe they were annoyed with me…If so, I apologize.”
In the end, you often played with Semin. Did you want him to score a hat trick?
“What next! I didn’t play with Semin. Semin wanted to score.”
Ten games, ten wins. Is this a dream team?
“Well first, we could lose. The main thing is that we won in the finals. Everything was done for that.”
Here’s a slightly different version of said conversation via Sportbox.ru’s Denis Gusev...
“Now I feel slightly depressed. But I’ll go to the locker room and my mood will rise,” said Datsyuk to Sportbox.ru’s special correspondent Denis Gusev in Helsinki.
You defeated opponents in crucial games. Is the “Red Machine” back?
“And in the semifinals and finals, we missed the beginning. The score doesn’t matter in the decisive game, but with the score, we finished calmly. It’s good that we won. The latest victory is the most pleasant.”
The stronger the opponent played, the more powerful our team looked…
“Many thanks to the fans. They helped us a great deal: the stronger the support, the better we played.”
Is the Stanley Cup trophy heavier?
“Honestly, I haven’t had the time to hold it.”
And Varlamov fell…
“I didn’t see it. It’s you, the press, you notice everything.”
“Is the victory at the World Championship like winning the Stanley Cup?”
“Here you’re playing for your country, and it gives you extra emotion. You play for the team with all your heart.”
Why did the Russian team win all 10 games in the tournament?
“Due to an aggressive game and motivation. And, most importantly, playing disciplined. We were a real team.”
What did you think of your work with Bilyaletdinov?
And his game plan?
“First of all, it’s a game of discipline. Here I learned to pay more attention to detail. And, of course, it’s a team game.”
You were with different linemates. Did you feel a difference?
“It doesn’t matter who you go out on the ice with. The main thing is winning. I enjoyed playing with them. I hoped they did, too.”
At the last minute you played a lot with Semin. Did you want him to score a hat trick?
“Honestly, we didn’t plan on it. I didn’t just give him the puck, he wanted to score.”
Now is it time to think about the Olympic Games in Sochi?
“No, it’s still very early, it’s two years from now.”
Things get pretty damn repetitive in Datsyuk’s interview with Championat’s Maria Rogovskaya, but you get the picture…
And in English, the Detroit News posted some quips from Datsyuk via the Associated Press...
Datsyuk was another top performer who glued together his colleagues to play cohesively. He talked positively about his prized teammate Malkin.
“He was unbelievable all the way, and deserves all the credit he got. I am happy to play with him again,” Datsyuk said.
The Russian team might be built with an eye on the Olympics in Sochi in 2014, and Datsyuk was asked about the NHL possibly deciding not to let its players compete.
“That is two years from now, and I cannot say anything about something so far away as I don’t even know what happens tomorrow. It is hard to say something about Sochi now,” Datsyuk said.
MLive’s Brendan Savage penned a medal round recap as well, and if you’re in the mood for one more narrative recap, the Free Press’s Helene St. James took note of the statistical contributions Filppula and Datsyuk made to their team’s respective causes:
Filppula finished the tournament with four goals and six assists in 10 games. He was second in team scoring behind Finnish superstar Mikko Koivu.
Datsyuk 33, nearly doubled his production for the tournament after registering two goals and two assists through the first nine games. He earned his first assist Sunday when he passed the puck to Alex Ovechkin, who found fellow Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin to make it 1-1 against Slovakia.
Datsyuk, renowned as the NHL’s top takeaway artist, stripped Ivan Baranka inside the blue line midway through the second period to find Semin, giving Russia a 4-1 lead.
Datsyuk all but secured Russia a gold medal when he beat Jan Laco five-hole on a behind-the-net setup from Semin with just under four minutes into the third period.
Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara made it 1-0 for his Slovaks a minute into the game, but Russia replied with five straight goals before Chara scored his second of the game midway through the third period.
Datsyuk’s output helped Russia go undefeated at the tournament and win its first title since the 2009 world championship in Switzerland.
In the multimedia department, holy schomgly, do I have highlights for you! TSN posted a 7:07 highlight clip and a shorter 1:18 highlight clip from the game, and in YouTube form, We All Bleed Red (subscribe to the guy already!) provides clips of Datsyuk schooling Tomas Tatar…
The Datsyuk-Semin-Ovechkin line at work…
Putting on a clinic…
And Datsyuk’s tap-pass to Ovechkin, who sets Semin’s goal up:
Here’s Datsyuk’s other assist…
And here’s his goal from Nemo20781:
Datsyuk and Tatar appear in IIHF.com’s post-game clip as well…
And I can’t embed this, but I found Datsyuk speaking to SVT.se’s Marie Lehmann in a 43 second clip as well, discussing coach Bilyaletdinov’s influence upon the team and some “secret” strategies.
In terms of photo galleries, CAS.sk, Hokej.sk and SME.sk chronicled the game’s lasting images from the Slovaks’ perspective, while Iltahleti, Sportbox.ru, Championat, Russia Today, Sports.ru, Gazeta, SVT and Aftonbladet all posted photo galleries from the game while focusing on the Russians.
Also of Red Wings-related note: Waaaaayy down the line, the Portage la Prairie, (Manitoba) Herald-Leader reports that the Wings’ alums will play in Poplar Point, Manitoba to celebrate the 100th anniversary of hockey at their rink…
• I’m not sure if he’ll play in the Winter Classic alumni game, but DetroitRedWings.com’s Zack Crawford spoke to former Maple Leaf and Red Wing Brad Marsh, who was Nicklas Lidstrom’s first, first partner, prior to the team’s acquisition of Brad McCrimmon in the 1991-92 season, and Marsh talked about his time with the Wings:
“I was traded from Toronto to Detroit and it was going from a circus-like atmosphere, if you will, to a very, very stable franchise that had bonified NHL players on it such as Steve Yzerman,” Marsh said. “And I was just blown away by the professionalism and the attitude of not only the team but of Steve Yzerman himself. When you get into your 30s you never know how long you’re going to play. So I relished every moment of being a Detroit Red Wing on a very classy organization led by Mike Ilitch and Steve Yzerman.”
Marsh considers himself lucky for being able to reach a milestone while in Motor City that many NHL players never reach.
“I got to play my 1,000th hockey game as a member of the Detroit Red Wings,” he said. “Unfortunately it wasn’t going to happen as a member of the Leafs; they had different plans and different ideas about moving forward, and I wanted to keep playing simply to play my 1,000th game. I was very proud to achieve that mark as a Red Wing.”
• And, finally, I’m running on two hours of sleep and have put in some serious-ass hours covering the Worlds, so I’m gonna take it very slow today. Covering the Worlds has been great, but after far too many early mornings and a two-week grind, I’m hoping that the last full week of May’s a quiet one news-wise.
Update #2: Sport-Express reports that the Russian national team has arrived in Moscow...
• And Iltahleti suggests that Valtteri Filppula was the Finns’ best player at the Worlds and a foundational player for tournaments to come.
Update #3: Two more…From RIA Novosti...
Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk learned the value of discipline while playing in Russia’s world championship-winning ice hockey team, he said Monday.
Coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s team trounced Slovakia 6-2 in Sunday’s final to win the title, helped by a goal from Datsyuk, who finished the tournament with three goals and four assists in 10 games.
“This work gave me a lot of things. A gold medal, discipline, the ability to pay more attention to details, teamwork,” the two-time Stanley Cup winner for Detroit said.
At the tournament Detroit star played both in the second line with Washington Capitals forwards Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and in the third line with 19-year-old prodigy Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I was pleased to play with all of my partners, but I don’t know whether they were pleased though. Maybe some of them had to suffer me a little bit,” Datsyuk joked.
And Datsyuk and the Russian national team were, of course, mentioned in Pravda...
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.