HELSINKI, May 16 (R-Sport) - The United States will be a big threat to Russia in the world hockey championship quarterfinals, all the more so because the American players have adapted well to Europe’s larger rinks, Russia’s on-form winger Ilya Kovalchuk told R-Sport on Thursday.
The two old rivals face off Thursday in Helsinki for a place in the semifinals, with the US looking for revenge for a 5-3 defeat by Russia in the preliminary round.
“It’ll be a very tricky game now. The Americans have already adapted to the big rinks, acclimatized,” said New Jersey Devils wing Kovalchuk, who leads the tournament scoring standings with 13 points from seven games.
“It definitely won’t be an easy stroll. They have a lot of guys who play in leading roles in the NHL."
Kovalchuk added that the US forward line of Paul Stastny, Craig Smith and Alex Galchenyuk would be a particular threat, and said he was hoping for Russia’s Sergei Mozyakin, the all-time KHL scoring leader, to rediscover his form.
Later in the day are the other three quarterfinals, as Switzerland plays the Czech Republic, Finland takes on Slovakia and Canada plays Sweden.