Russians in the playoffs...

The first comment I've ever gotten from someone I don't actually know (awww...my little blog is growing up!) questioned the worth of Russian players in the NHL playoffs...the assumption being that they haven't performed relative to the hype surrounding them. It's not something I know off-hand, so let's do some research...

First, the Canadiens' own Alexei Kovalev: 83 GP, 27-40-67, + 4, 11.7% shooting.

Not world-beating or anything, but it certainly isn't bad for a player of his caliber. With scoring at a premium in the playoffs, scoring at a 0.81 per game clip isn't bad at all. And, if you look at individual years, he hasn't had any nightmare 12-game scoreless performances...although his points per game the last two times out were 0.56 and 0.55. He hasn't been the same player as he used to be while stuck on that horrific Ranger team, but I continue to insist that he'll find his form playing within the rigid discipline of Claude Julien's system. Hell, if he scores 0.55 a game for us this season, that's all we can ask out of him.

Let's go for a slightly-bigger name...how about Sergei Fedorov? His stats are: 162 GP, 50-113-163, + 38, 8.9% shooting, 1.01 per game.

Sure, this all came on high-powered Detroit teams. But, I would postulate that Fedorov was a big reason those teams were so fearsome in the playoffs. Even to a bigger extent than Kovalev, Fedorov has been frighteningly consistent. He's never been lower than 0.83 PPG when Detroit has survived for more than 10 games. As a 33-year old two seasons ago, that 0.83 came in the shape of 5-14-19 in 23 games...what more can you ask for from any one man in the playoffs? Go ahead and look at the numbers when he was in his prime, and they're actually pretty gaudy. Not Gretzky-gaudy, but what do you want? The golden generation of Russian players (playing in the high-scoring era that Gretzky did) all pllied their trade when they weren't allowed to come to the NHL. Keep that in mind.

Another bigger name -- Pavel Bure: 64 GP, 35-35-70, + 8, 13.8% shooting, 1.09 PPG.

For someone who was under so much pressure to be THE main scoring option for those Vancouver teams, I'd argue that you couldn't ask for much more. All 4 times he made it to the postseason with the 'Nucks, they made it to at least the second round. That's not too shabby...just ask Boston fans.

Let's go back in history some, to the guy who may have been the first pure Russian scorer to play here: Alex Mogilny: 111 GP, 37-43-80, - 1, 11.2% shooting, 0.72 PPG.

There's 1992-93, 2000-01, and a whole bunch of Look Out Below. His numbers aren't terrible, but relative to the hype, I suppose this would be Exhibit A of the gentleman making the original comment.

Am I forgetting any of the major players? If so, drop me a comment...

Oh...and her'es another thing. Russian defensemen have been historically excellent on at least one side of the puck in the playoffs...I submit to the jury: Alexei Zhitnik, Sandis Ozolinsh (he played for the Russians in at least one Olympics, yeah?), Sergei Zubov, and Vladimir Konstantinov.


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