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.
Forward Boone Jenner was suspended three games after charging Swedish defenseman Jesper Pettersson in an exhibition game (Pettersson will miss the tourney with a dislocated shoulder and fractured wrist.)
Meanwhile, head coach Steve Spott is visibly concerned with his team’s discipline…or lack thereof.
“We’re taking too many penalties,” Spott said after exhibitions against Sweden and Finland. “That’s an area that we have to continue to improve at because we’re just putting our penalty killers on the ice way too much and there are some elite players that are sitting.”
Russia will take on Canada on Dec. 31, the last game of the group stage.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.
Tonight was supposed to be about a clash of two Eastern Conference titans who sport arguably the two best goalies in the NHL. That mattered to Montreal Canadiens fans for about half the game against the New York Rangers, give or take a few minutes.
Priorities are now shifting to calling upon higher powers/etc. in hopes that Carey Price is OK.
Mike Condon replaced Price in the third period and … well, people are concerned.
Again, people are pretty worried right now.
Price being replaced isn’t the greatest sign, yet it’s early, so stay tuned for updates. Maybe it will merely be a matter of playing it safe?
Update: The good news is that Montreal won by a significant 5-1 margin.
Yes, that probably isn’t much solace for Habs fans. Agreed.
It sounds like Price re-aggravated his previous injury.