New York Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev played his first ever game as a member of Russia’s senior national team on Saturday, and was scoreless in a 4-1 victory over Team USA while playing on a line with former CSKA Moscow teammate and current Los Angeles forward Alexander Frolov and former Bruins pick Sergei Zinoviev. The victory allowed the Russians to remain undefeated in the tournament, and guaranteed them the top seed in Group E when the IIHF World Championship quarterfinals start on Wednesday. The Russian squad plays Latvia on Sunday in their final game of the Qualification Round.
UPDATE 6:30pm: Zherdev registered his first point of the tournament, a primary assist on Frolov’s third period goal against Latvia, on Sunday. Zherdev finished with two shots and was a +2 in 10:57 of ice time over 18 shifts. Anton Kuryanov, longtime linemate of deceased Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov and a personal fav, had two goals in Russia’s 6-1 victory. Former NHL defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky added a pair of goals as well.
Zherdev was interviewed by Russian TV channel Sport between the second and third periods of Saturday’s game against Team USA. His comments were transcribed by AllHockey.ru and are translated below.
- It’s the first game, so it’s still a little difficult. Plus, I haven’t played together with Frolov for a long time. But that’s normal, everything will come with [more] games.
- The Americans aren’t playing too physically?
- No. It’s simply that we took penalties which we shouldn’t have. In the first period we had a big advantage. In the second we played on the penalty kill a lot. Fewer penalties, and everything will be fine.
- What task do you think the coaches will put before you for the third period?
- Fewer penalties and a little more time on the attack.
Zherdev, who arrived in Switzerland on Friday and is still feeling the affects of jet lag, played just 10:20 over fourteen shifts (and just 1:30 during a penalty-filled second period) while registering two shots on goal. After the game, he once again spoke to Sport, and his comments were again transcribed by Allhockey.ru.
- I’m happy that we succeeded in gaining a victory in my debut game for Team Russia — my impressions are very positive. I know many of the guys on the national team very well, and Sasha Frolov and I understand each other perfectly. But we still need to add in practice in order to raise [our level of] teamwork. I try to bring the maximum benefit to the team and carry out all the directions given by the coaches.
- Did Russia play at its peak in the game with the Americans or is do you still have reserves for strengthening your play?
- We could have scored much more than four goals today. If not for our team’s penalties, I think that the score would have been much higher. We completely outplayed the Americans because of our team game. But we still have much to add!
Zherdev was greeted by television cameras when he arrived in Bern on Friday. Their video report on his arrival is available at Sportbox.ru, as is the full version of the on-camera interview used at the end of the first clip.
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