On Monday night, Russia was victorious in their 2015 summer camp opener as they defeated the Czech Republic 5-0. Ivan Barbashev scored two goals and added an assist, leading his team to a lop-sided win. While sometimes the score may not indicate the play on the ice, the score was as one-sided as the product on the ice.
After a slow star in the first period that saw both the Russians and the Czechs trading chances and figuring out each other’s flaws, Russia opened the scoring 5:14 when Artem Penkovsky stripped David Pastrnak of the puck in the offensive zone before feeding Sergei Tolchinsky for his first of the tournament. The play came with some controversy as Pastrnak and the Czech bench felt a penalty should have been called against Tolchinsky who brought Pastrnak down with a hook. Viktor Baldayev and Ivan Barbashev scored less than three minutes apart to put the Red Army up by three before the end of the second period.
Both teams attempted the same type of play in the offensive zone; finding the winger on the off side to sneak in by the backdoor and into the slot. For Russia, it worked on five separate occasions but unfortunately for the Czech team, it led to a couple of shots on net and nothing to show for it. The duo of Maxim Mamin and Valentin Zykov struck mid-way in the third period after putting on a display of puck cycling and fancy stick-work that dazzled the crowd for the entire game. Barbashev scored his second of the night with less than a minute to go while on a powerplay and Ilya Sorokin — who was barely called upon but still mad a couple of beautiful saves — earned the shutout.
In the second period, defensemen David Nemecek and Robert Cerny both went down to injury, on individual plays. Nemecek was helped off the ice, favoring his right knee after a scrum after the whistle sent him sprawling to the ice and Cerny fell victim to a blocked shot to the ankle. Both did return later in the game but Filip Pyrochta, who has been sitting on the bench as a substitute, alternated shifts with Cerny and Nemecek to give each of them some rest.
Following the game, I had the chance to catch up with the Russian captain, Barbashev, and discuss the game that had just passed.
I’m here with Ivan Barbashev of Team Russia. Ivan, a big game for you tonight scoring two goals and adding an assist. How good does it feel to get this game out of the way?
“It’s good, you know. You always want to score that goal and get the monkey off your back. I was really happy to help the team out tonight and win the game but it will mean more once the tournament starts for real.”
Your line was clicking the entire night. What pushes your trio to that next level?
“We work hard together and we have fun. I think it’s good chemistry between moving the puck and finding open spaces to shoot. Vladmir (Tkachev) is a very good stick-handler and likes to play with the puck, plus he’s quick too and Pavel (Buchnevich) is really strong on his feet and can hit hard. They make it easy out there to play the game we all like to play and to score goals.”
Despite your team winning 5-0, both teams got off to a slow start. Can you describe the first period for us?
“We came out a bit slow but both teams were testing each other and seeing what we had planned. We took our time to find a strategy that could work and then we used our speed and our power to get some goals and then we felt comfortable. We then get some scoring from other lines which is very important because then everyone starts to have a good time and it gives us all some time to sit back and re-focus before going back out there without having to worry about getting back in the game, since we are already in the lead.”
The physical aspect of tonight’s game was noticeable from the start. Does the Russian squad enjoy playing that type of game?
“Definitely, yes. I am a power-forward type player so I like that kind of hockey and I like to hit. We feel we can match up anybody hit for hit and we like aggressive style. Tonight there were a lot of battles after whistles and in corners for pucks and we loved it.”
I know it’s tough to answer this after a convincing win but what do you think needs improvement as your team goes further into the tournament?
Just keep playing our game. Ilya (Sorokin) played very good for us when we needed him. Sometimes when a goalie doesn’t face many shots, he gets cold but Ilya was perfect all game. Our defense also helps lots by stopping their players from getting much time in our own zone, even when we have players in the penalty box. We played well in their zone too and we got a lot of chances and we make good passes. We need to just keep playing that way and keep playing our game.”
Thanks so much for your time, Ivan, and good luck.
Before stepping out for the night, I was extremely fortunate to catch winger David Pastrnak of the Czech club and ask him a few questions. Although he wasn’t overly happy after tonight’s performance, he still took the time to answer.
David, tonight didn’t go the way you had expected. What was the biggest difficulty you had against Russia?
“There was not much we could do. We got a few chances and had some shots but we were too limited. Not many chances in the slot, mostly to the outside and not much chance of beating their goaltender. He played well, which made things even more frustrating because we didn’t have many chances to begin with. It wasn’t there for us tonight. Nothing seemed to work.”
The first period was a different story. Not many whistles and it resembled a chess match where both parties try to figure each other out. You looked to be on par until the second period? Why the let-down?
We stopped skating. We waited for things to come to us instead of going out and getting them. We made some nice passes here and there but eventually the puck started to get away from us or we made some bad decisions. Russia played well too, they didn’t get away from their game and they continued to play hard. We couldn’t match their speed or their toughness.
I won’t keep you much longer, just what is it that you think this team needs to do to get a better result?
“Give a 60-minute effort, keep skating and maybe have some good luck going our way. I was getting angry when the puck wouldn’t stay on my stick and our passing was not working the way it should be. I think we all just gripped on our sticks too tightly and we started to get nervous. It showed in the result, that we were playing on our heels after that first goal. Now it’s time to just move on, put this game behind us and move forward. There is still plenty of time to work on our game and get better as a team.”
Thanks for doing this David and good luck tomorrow night against Canada.
On behalf of LastWordOnSports.com, I would like to thank Ivan Barbashev and David Pastrnak for responding to our questions.
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