The final game in the Russia-Canada WJ tune up goes tonight in Victoria. Nail Yakupov (5, 2-2-4) is taking a little heat for his on ice performance, but I think that’s more sour grapes from Eastern media than reality. The fact is that Yakupov’s KHL performance is so impressive that anything he did in this exhibition would be gravy. Its no doubt been a long series for him–he’s been a target in each of the 5 games played and it’ll be the same tonight–so I’d give him a pass no matter the result tonight.

Which brings me to tonight’s sermon. There has long been a bias about Russian players among Canadian fans; I am not saying everyone, just saying some people would prefer a WHL kid or maybe someone from Sudbury. Nail Yakupov hasn’t backed down from anything I’ve seen, and his on ice weaknesses–and they are there–are more the result of youth than anything else. Nail Yakupov has been the best or second best player on every sheet of ice he’s stepped onto since childhood, and that is going to change. He’ll need to adjust, and we should give him time. I’ve sat in the stands at Northlands and heard the hometown booing their own and it has never made any sense to me. I suspect things will be different with Nail Yakupov–he’s an elite talent and  a quick study.

Still, Nail Yakupov is 19 years old. He’s going to make mistakes, lack consistency and look like less than a million at times–that happens, folks. It isn’t because he’s Russian, its because he’s 19. Give him time with the Oilers coaching staff, and the things you might be worried about will be addressed and the shine of this new dime will be bright again.

A short 6 game series is not the best way to see Nail Yakupov. We’ll get to enjoy him under NHL lights soon, and lets make him feel welcome.

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  1. ItsTheBGB says:

    I can’t recall watching a player being shadowed so heavily in a game. It’s been insane watching him in this series, there’s always someone on his jock.

  2. sliderule says:

    If you want to see how a player can be shut down take a look at WJC where Bure was marked by our team and couldn’t get a shot on net.
    Or Crosby at Vancouver Olympics were Americans shut him down for most of the game until he was able to score winning goal but had largely been ineffective up to that point
    The junior games against the Q were normal.The games against the OHL you saw a change .The OHL were running at Russians and Yak in particular .
    The last game against WHL was to me the worst.You can call it an attempt to intimidate or to me it’s just an attempt to injure but the stuff Ewanyk was doing was just plain stupid and he paid the price.A lot of this was directed at Yakupov but by and large he was able to avoid the cheap shots and hand out his own good check as he did against Murray.
    Yak much like the oilers in AHL is playing careful.This is only smart as the guys that that would like to hurt them are mostly goons.

  3. spoiler says:

    Tournament of Even Smaller Sample Sizes.

  4. shiftyford says:

    Well said LT. It makes me cringe every time the MSM picks up the anti-Russian thread. It is at the point where they are embarassing themselves with their ignorance. You can’t tell me you’ve never seen a Canadian kid floating the zone early, cheating for offense, or lagging on the backcheck.

  5. Chunklets says:

    So Dinamo Riga have sent Rob Schremp down to the farm after 1 goal and 6 points in 21 games. If Schremp passes through KHL waivers, he’ll be playing for Liepaja Metalurgs of the Belarussian League. I actually feel kind of sad for Robbie at this point.

    And may I say “very well put!” on the subject of Mr. Yakupov, LT!

  6. PunjabiOil says:

    You can’t tell me you’ve never seen a Canadian kid floating the zone early, cheating for offense, or lagging on the backcheck.

    Evokes memories of Brad Isbister.

  7. Oilanderp says:

    I just got back from the other universe where Börje Salming was drafted by T.O. and rushed along instead of being signed as a F.A. after a few years of development in the Swedish league. He was deemed too ‘Euro’ and to be lacking in truculence. He was traded to Boston and eventually was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

  8. Lowetide says:

    I think Yakupov has played well tonight.

  9. Oilanderp says:

    The good news is that Griffin Reinhart is going to be traded now too. He just made a giveaway in his own zone. Get on it Tambo!

  10. Suntory Hanzo says:

    Just started watching…I like the Russian feed. How has the game been so far? Anything of note?

  11. Suntory Hanzo says:

    Did Glen Anderson just get reincarnated?

  12. RexLibris says:

    No feeds of the game tonight? I can’t seem to find anything online.

    Still hate Shaw.

    I see Yakupov has been playing with truculence.

  13. OilLeak says:

    I think Yakupov has played well tonight.

    Yak was definitely snake bitten the last couple of games, not worried at all it happens. However, he did play much better tonight than he did yesterday and had a bunch of good chances, despite the lack of time and space given to him.

  14. bookje says:

    Well said LT.It makes me cringe every time the MSM picks up the anti-Russianthread. It is at the point where they are embarassing themselves with their ignorance.You can’t tell me you’ve never seen a Canadian kid floating the zone early, cheating for offense, or lagging on the backcheck.

    I agree, members of the mainstream media are just lazy slobs who do nothing more than sit back and broadly generalize about groups of people.

  15. delooper says:

    Just got back from the game an hour ago. Yakupov had his moments but he was generally outshone tonight by other players. He was targeted a few times, and he went after some Canadian players, so he had a few penalties and wasn’t as effective as you might have hoped. But the Russian team played well. All night they looked bigger and faster than the Canadian team, with higher-quality possession and crisp tape-to-tape passes. The Canadian/WHL team looked a little timid. Reilly had a couple of nice rushes during the game. Dumba looked small and not very effective at this level. Overall the Russians beat the Canadians to the puck, forced more turnovers.

    There were a lot of people with Oilers jerseys in the stands. A little girl was sitting in front of me with a “Go Canada (and Yakupov!)” sign. One guy in the stands had a Flames jersey, and the crowd booed him when the camera caught him. Overall was a fine night.

  16. dcsj says:

    I was at the game, too. That was funny when they booed the guy with the Flames jersey, but they probably would have booed an Oilers jersey too. Most people here are Canuckleheads. I noticed quite a few Oilers jersey’s also.

    I thought Yakupov’s best period was the second. He seemed to be floating a bit on the first WHL goal, sort of hanging up by the blue-line waiting for an outlet pass. I don’t know if the coaches said something to him, but after that he seemed much more involved and producing many more chances for his team. He was involved in the 4th Russian goal — at least I think it was the 4th one — buzzing around the Victoria end and getting chances. He didn’t get an assist on that one, but I think his efforts opened that goal up.

    One play that really impressed me for Yakupov came on a potential Russian icing that was waved off. Yak saw the WHL player picking up the puck and looking like he was going to bring it behind the net. He swooped around from the opposite side and was *flying* by the time he got to the guy with the puck. The guy looked shocked, I think it turned into a bit of a team sortie around the WHL goal as the rest of the team caught up to him.

    I liked the Russian penalty kill, they seemed to be getting quite a few more penalties than the WHL, but only allowed the one power play goal. Their PK was quite aggressive, not just cutting down passing lanes, but going right after the guy with the puck and not letting anything develop.

    A good time was had by all in our party. Very entertaining.

  17. Truth says:

    How about that video replay guy! Live TV at its best.

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