Russia announces 35 Olympic hopefuls; what, no Bryzgalov?
It's Olympic Monday, apparently, with several of the national teams announcing their head coaches and orientation camp rosters.
The first of the hockey superpowers to release the group of names vying for a spot: Team Russia, who will be led by head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov on the bench. On the ice, they'll boast some combination of the following 35 players, to be thinned down to 25 beginning at orientation camp on August 23-24:
Goalkeepers: Konstantin Barulin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov, Vasily Koshechkin, Evgeni Nabokov.
Defenders: Evgeny Biryukov, Vyacheslav Voinov, Anton Volchenkov, Sergei Gonchar, Denis Denisov, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Evgeny Medvedev, Nikita Nikitin, Ilya Nikulin, Eugene Ryasensky, Fedor Tyutin.
Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Michael Varnakov, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Denis Kokarev, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Perezhogin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Alexander Semin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tereshchenko, Viktor Tikhonov, Vadim Shipachev, Nail Yakupov.
Not a whole lot of surprises here. Russia is stacked up front with Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Ovechkin, Malkin, Radulov, and Yakupov, among others.
But there is one huMANgous big omission in this group of 35, and it's among those five goaltenders: Ilyz Bryzgalov is nowhere to be found.
Amazing how things change. Four years ago, Bryzgalov was a starter for this team, splitting time with Evgeni Nabokov in Vancouver. As recently as two years ago, he was the likely starter of the 2014 group as well.
But then he signed in Philadelphia. Now he's an unemployed goaltender that can't even get a camp invite ahead of Semyon Varlamov and Vasily Koshechkin.
Meanwhile, his backup from those halcyon days, Sergei Bobrovsky, probably has the inside track as the starter.
You can sort of understand Russia's thinking, though. That Olympic team has little defence to speak of, and I think these last two years have demonstrated that Bryzgalov struggles on that kind of team.
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