We know that Team USA will start Jonathan Quick on Wednesday. American coach Dan Bylsma hasn’t revealed his starter for Saturday’s marquee game against Russia, but whoever it is will have his work cutout for him whenever the United States takes a penalty.
Russia revealed it’s top power-play unit and it couldn’t get much more imposing. Alex Ovechkin will be backed up by Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Radulov, and Andrei Markov, according to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.
Any one of those guys by himself would be a serious threat with the man advantage, which is an easy argument to make given that Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, and Markov each finished in the top-five in power-play points in either 2011-12 or the shortened campaign.
Putting Radulov in there instead of blueliner gives them another legitimate threat to score, although it also speaks to their less than stellar core of defensemen.
If all of Russia’s lines were as dangerous as that top power-play unit, then they would be the runaway favorites, but Russia is an awfully top heavy club offensively. Their top two even-strength lines are as good as any nation’s, but they arguably lack the depth of the Canadians. That disparity between the top-six and bottom-six is a non-factor when it comes to the man advantage though and given just how good that top unit is, they need it to do well to make up for their other deficiencies.
It is worth adding that their second power-play unit, while obviously not as impressive, is nothing to sneeze at. Any unit led by Evgeni Malkin has to be taken seriously as does his supporting cast of Alexander Semin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Slava Voynov, and Evgeny Medvedev.