Nail Yakupov has fired the first shot in advance of Russia’s game with Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championships.
“I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians,” Yakupov told Russian media outlet R-Sport. “These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready.”
Yakupov’s referring to November’s Subway Super Series, which pitted his Russian junior team against a series of CHL all-star sides from the Quebec, Ontario and Western leagues.
The Russians were involved in a number of physical, whistle-filled affairs on the trip. The opening game against the QMJHL featured 76 penalty minutes and, in the second game against the OHL, Yakupov was hammered by Plymouth forward Tom Wilson, one of the last cuts from the Canadian team.
Yakupov’s “dirty” comment will draw plenty of attention with Team Canada in the midst of controversy regarding its aggressive play.
Dion Phaneuf‘s first home game as a member of the Ottawa Senators is going more smoothly than his debut did on Wednesday.
Ottawa fell 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings last night, and they need another goal to tie up the Colorado Avalanche. Still, Phaneuf’s making a bigger impact on Thursday, collecting two assists … his first two points in a Sens’ sweater.
You can see his crowd-pleasing first helper above.
Here’s his second assist for good measure:
Update: The Avalanche held on, taking a 4-3 edge. Even so, Phaneuf’s getting a warm welcome in his new hockey city.
Phaneuf on the Ottawa crowd reaction: "It gave me chills."