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Russia's new top line: Ovechkin, Malkin and Semin

Here's another hockey update from Sport-Express' Slava Malamud, who will be blogging for us throughout the Games:

Get ready for the Dream Line!

Saturday afternoon's Team Russia practice featured a switch-around in the top two lines, with Pavel Datsyuk moving to pivot Ilya Kovalchuk and Maxim Afinogenov. This means that Evgeni Malkin will take his place on the top line, setting up the long-anticipated partnership between the Penguins superstar and the Capitals' dynamic duo of Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin.

After the practice, Ovechkin commented on his new center.

"How do I like [playing with Malkin]? If we were to put you on the line with him, you would like it too," Ovechkin said with a smile. "I don't think it will be too different an experience [from Datsyuk], because all players on our team are good. It will probably have a bit more physical force. More speed. The most important thing is to play your own game, instead of trying to adapt to a linemate."

Ovechkin and Malkin have played on the same line at the 2005 World Championships, the 2006 Olympics in Turin and the 2006 World Championships. And then, of course, there was the All-Star Game's Gatorade-squirting, face-shield-wiping togetherness.

The superstar line will debut at 3 pm on Sunday against Jaromir Jagr and the Czech Republic.

By Slava Malamud  |  February 20, 2010; 6:57 PM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin , Ice hockey , Vancouver 2010  
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Comments

Maybe this will get Malkin going - he looked pretty bad in the Slovakia game. That line could be devastating to opponents if the three of them can get a rhythm going.

Posted by: timmyv38 | February 20, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Thank you.

This makes so much more sense to me. I think you want to put an excellent defensive and passing and puck-getting forward like Datsyuk on the same line as a poor defensive sharpshooter like Kovalchuk.

Semin and Ovechkin don't need someone like Datsyuk as much, and they could use a big skilled guy like Malkin. Ovechkin seems to be in favor of the move.

Now that the move has been made, I predict Russia wins the gold. I believe both of the top lines explode tomorrow, even though the Czech Republic has been looking very good.

I hope that Ovechkin does not hurt Fleischmann.

Posted by: youaresquishy | February 20, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

By "poor defensive sharpshooter," I mean to say that Kovalchuk is a great scorer for sure--he's got more goals than anyone else since he started playing. But he is poor as a defensive forward.

Posted by: youaresquishy | February 20, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

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