Gare Joyce has a good article at Sportsnet.ca on Russian star Nikita Filatov, who led Team Russia to an 8-1 victory over Slovakia on Tuesday afternoon with a 3 goal, 1 assist performance. In the article, Filatov talks about the influence his “best friend in hockey”, Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov, had on him:
“We played together on the team that won the under-18s in Tampere [in 2007] and he was the best player on the ice,” Filatov says. “We were a confident team and the confidence started with Alexei. He really helped me a lot with my game and my life. It was such a big honour for me to play with him on teams in international tournaments. He was such a good guy and such a good friend. Every aspect of his life … he always wanted to be the best at whatever he did and I think he was. A unique man.”
Filatov wouldn’t comment on allegations that a performance enhancing substance was found in Cherepanov’s blood, saying only “I don’t want to comment on these things. Probably it can be true, probably it can’t be true. It doesn’t matter. There is no bringing him back. It’s just sad.”
At this year’s World Junior Championship, Filatov is paired with another Ranger prospect, Evgeni Grachev, on Russia’s top line. Here’s what the Columbus Blue Jacket prospect had to say about his linemate:
“I played with Evgeni the last two years and I really liked it,” Filatov says. “We are a good fit together. We’ve got Andronov on the right wing–very tough, very powerful. Gratchev is a big guy with good hands and he’s good in both ends of the rink. The game is much better for me when I’m with the big guys because [the opponents' defence] have to pay attention to them and it gives me room. We’re a tough line to play against.”
Grachev has just one point in three games in the tournament thus far, but was on the ice for five of Russia’s eight goals against Slovakia on Tuesday. He set up the Russians’ second goal by carrying the puck up ice and deep into the Slovakian zone before dishing it Maxim Chudinov, who fed Maxim Goncharov for the shot from the point. And he drove the net hard all game, causing a distraction in the crease on two other Russian goals.
The full game is available online on demand from TSN for those who’d like to watch.
The Rangers only other prospect in this year’s tournament, defenseman Tomas Kundratek, has three assists in three games, playing on the Czech Republic’s top defense pairing. He picked up two of those assists, and added five shots on goal, in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over Germany.
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