Four Washington Capitals prospects were involved in the 2005
WJC. A review of each player follows.
In his first WJC, Chris Bourque showed a ferocious intensity
while at the same time demonstrating his impressive offensive skills. Bourque
was flanked on the U.S. top line by Patrick O’Sullivan and Drew Stafford for
the majority of the first two games, but was subsequently moved to a line with
Dan Fritsche and Kevin Porter. Even though he is most comfortable buzzing
around the top of the goaltender’s crease, Bourque did get some time at the
right point, among other positions, on the power play. Bourque drew a few
penalties, but his shooting accuracy needs to improve.
Early in the game versus Belarus, Bourque threw a heavy
check along the boards against Alexei Savin, but landed awkwardly on his left
leg. He tried to continue playing, but he was in street clothes by the end of
the second period. Bourque had an MRI before the U.S. was scheduled to play the
Czech Republic, and it revealed that he had a medial collateral ligament strain
in his left knee which meant that he would be unable to play for the remainder
of the WJC. While the U.S. team had other issues to deal with over the course
of the tournament, Bourque’s presence on the ice was missed.
For the first three games of the WJC, Oscar Hedman played
alongside Johan Fransson on Sweden’s third defensive pairing. Suddenly,
starting with the game against Slovakia, Hedman was moved up to the first unit
with Nicklas Grossmann (his partner in the fifth/sixth game versus Finland was
Ola Svanberg). Hedman saw a lot of ice time in all situations over the final
three games. He is a good skater and passes the puck well, but he was completely
disinterested when it came to getting involved in the offense.
Alexander Ovechkin, participating in his third WJC and
sporting the captain’s “C” for Russia, was one of the shining stars of this
tournament. An electrifying talent, he has the combination of size, skill, and
speed to make fans jump out of their seats.
In the opening game of the tournament versus the United
States, Ovechkin had an explosive end-to-end rush and fired a hard wrist shot
from below the right faceoff dot that cleared Al Montoya’s right leg pad by
mere inches to sneak inside the left post. Ovechkin, skating on Russia’s first
line with Enver Lisin and Dmitri Pestunov, recorded six shots in the opening
game. Ovechkin scored two goals in three consecutive games as he helped lead
Russia to first place in Pool A and the gold medal game. Of his seven goals, three were power play
Consistently double-teamed, Ovechkin’s dazzling
puck-handling allowed him to create space and get his shot off. Opponents found
out that the only way to contain him was to be extremely physical. He averaged
over 20 minutes of ice time a game, and saw plenty of action on the power play
and penalty-kill units.
Ovechkin finished third in tournament scoring with 11 points
and tied for the most goals with seven. He got plenty of accolades as he was
named the Best Forward (directorate award), and was selected as one of the
forwards on the Media All-Star Team.
Mikhail Yunkov is a solid, workmanlike two-way forward and
on a Russian WJC team blessed with a tremendous amount of skill, he had to show
his value on the fourth line. He was average on faceoffs as well as his
defensive zone coverage. Playing on a line with Denis Parshin and Roman
Voloshenkov, Yunkov was somewhat effective in his role, but it was difficult to
determine if he shelved his offensive game for the good of the team, or if he
doesn’t have a lot of offensive skills at his disposal. He should learn plenty
from this experience.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.