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World Cup of Hockey: Team Russia Preview

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After the disappointment of Sochi 2014, can Team Russia rebound?

Team Russia OffThePostComic

President Putin was insistent that ice hockey was the one medal in which Russia was to win gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Unhappily for him, the West won that battle, and Team Russia yet again disappointed the motherland with a reckless and futile display. Their 3-1 QF loss to Finland should see this team eager for retribution against their oppressors. Let's take a look at the latest bunch of Russian renegades.

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Who exactly are Team Russia?

Their coaching team is all-KHL, all-Russian, all conquering. Oleg Znarok is the head coach, a 3-time KHL coach of the year and the current coach of SKA Saint Petersburg. Ie, the guy who gets to coach Pavel Datsyuk.

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Which Canucks should I look out for?

This tournament came far too soon for Nikita Tryamkin; there are no Canucks on this team and quite possibly won't be for some years. I think we're all fine with that. Don Cherry may even start to like us as a consequence.

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Projected lines:

Ovechkin - Datsyuk - Tarasenko
Panarin - Malkin - Kucherov
Namestnikov - Kuznetsov - Shipachyov
Kulemin - Anisimov - Dadanov
Telegin

Kulikov - Markov
Orlov - Marchenko
Emelin - Nesterov
Zaitsev

Varlamov - Bobrovsky - Vasilevskiy

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What can we look forward to with this team?

- Plenty of goals at both ends. Just look at that top 6, wouldn't you bite your own arm off for either of those lines to be Canucks players? Having the depth to put Kuznetsov on the third line shows that for all their bluster, Russia has some serious talent there. If this team ignites, they could simply outscore everyone.

- The D is probably the weakest Team Russia D in my lifetime. Comparing it to Team Europe, they're only marginally ahead, and that's by counting this D unit as younger and faster, which will count for a lot against Team North America.

- The goalies are untrustworthy; I would make the youngster, Vasilevskiy, the starter - but that's unlikely.

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How will they do?

They'll either win, or be disowned at home for their poor performance. Almost certainly the latter. Team Russia epitomises the meaning of the word 'inconsistent'.

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Prediction:

Group stage exit, humbled by smaller nations yet again.