Hockey star, Evgeny Malkin, believes his pairing with another NHL great – Pavel Datsyuk – may bring Russia a “positive result” as the national team complete their preparations for the World Championships.
Zinetula Billyaletdinov has now been in charge of the Russian national ice-hockey team for almost a year and the World Championship will be the biggest test for the coach so far.
Despite the fact that Russia's main aim is building a team for their home Olympics in 2014, winning the world title would act as a huge confidence boost ahead of the Sochi Games.
“If the team plays like I want them to play, I'll be satisfied,” Billyaletdinov said. “We should see the tactics we are supposed to be applying. However, the result is very important as well. If we have a solid team ready to battle we will achieve a good result.”
The Red Machine has already received reinforcements from the NHL. The Colorado Avalanche's Semyon Varlamov seems to be the first choice between the pipes.
While the NHL's best forward Evgeny Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins will surely add more goals to the team's tally.
The Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk will join the side in Sweden. But neither Makin nor Datsyuk has yet lifted the World Championship trophy.
“I am good friends with Datsyuk,” Evgeny Malkin stressed. “It's good that Detroit was knocked out of the Stanley Cup and he can join the team. He's one of the best players in the world. It's a pleasure to play alongside him. And, hopefully, we'll get a positive result this time.”
Billyaletdinov still hasn't named his final roster and has reserved three places for players from North America, whose teams will be eliminated in the second round of the play-offs.
However, nothing can stop Russia's youngest forward Evgeny Kuznetsov from going to his first ever World Championship.
The 19-year-old is often compared with Malkin and the pair were playing in the same line at the training camp.
“Malkin is a great player,” Kuznetsov stressed. “Of course, I would love to play with him that would be an honor for me to be in the same line as him. But it's up to the coaches to decide.”
The Red Machine faces Latvia in their opener on Saturday, Day 2 of the World Championship.
And as usual, Team Russia are among the favorites with a newish coach behind the bench and a solid roster on the ice.