A few short months after the Olympics are over, the International Ice Hockey Federation begins its World Champion tournament this Friday in Minsk, Belarus. Two Columbus Blue Jackets players will make the trip to Eastern Europe to represent team Russia: Sergei Bobrovsky and Artem Anisimov.
Both Bobrovsky and Anisimov represented team Russia in the Olympics in February, and will rejoin seven other Russian Olympic players, including Alexander Ovechkin, in Belarus for another world hockey tournament. It’s no secret the Russians were disappointed in their performance in the Olympics, so it comes as no real surprise that they only kept seven players from the Olympic roster on the team for this tournament. As of now, anyway, the Jackets have two players out of just seven that were kept on the roster. This could change, though, because as more NHL teams get eliminated from the NHL Playoffs more players will be eligible to join their IIHF teams.
Bobrovsky will be joined by fellow goaltenders Andrei Vasilevsky, who played in Russia this past season, but will join the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) next season, and Anton Khudobin of the Carolina Hurricanes. Khdobin was 36-35-11 this season, with a save percentage of .926 and a goals against average of 2.3. Bobrovsky was 43-32-7 this season, with a .923 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average. At this point in time it looks like Bobrovsky will be the favored starting goaltender, but that could change as the Russians have two solid goalies on the roster.
Also, in case you were wondering, here are some Team Russia fun facts: of the 26 men on Russia’s current roster, 15 of them have last names ending in -ov, and 20 have last names ending in a v. And three of the ones whose names don’t end in a v are the goalies. Ovechkin is one of only 3 Russian skaters whose last name doesn’t end in a v. Every one of the defensemen has a last name that ends in a v. Too bad Nikitin didn’t make the cut this time.
Anyway, it’s a good sign two of the eight NHL players that will be representing Russia are from the Jackets lineup. Hopefully Bobrovsky will be able to secure the start in net this time, and hopefully both he and Anisimov will give a stellar performance on the world stage.