The tournament of small sample sizes has created panic in the streets! Nail Yakupov’s uneven play and the Russian Bear’s sleepy performance has many Oiler fans wondering about their Russian sniper.
In 5 WJ games this year, Yakupov is 1-4-5. Previous to his arriving in Ufa, Yakupov played in the KHL which is generally regarded as one of the best leagues in the world. In that league, Yakupov’s boxcars (22, 10-8-18) suggest a very productive rookie season.
So why the panic? I suspect it has to do with the very average performance of the Russian team and Yakupov’s inability to impact the game in a major way. The big stars of this tournament have turned out to be RNH, Jacob Trouba and goaltending.
The World Juniors are made for these moments–young impact players stepping up and delivering. For a fanbase that witnessed the magic of Jordan Eberle at the WJs, young Yakupov looks decidedly mediocre.
All I can offer you is this: its 5 games in a season, it is the ultimate tournament of small sample sizes. It doesn’t–really it doesn’t–mean anything. Yakupov’s performance in this tournament has not been what we might have expected, but it looks to me as though he is trying too hard, doesn’t have a lot of chem with his linemates and is playing for an addled coach.
He’s a kid. 18. If this were a Canadian kid, I do believe there would be more empathy. And if you’re upset by WJ performance, I encourage you to have a listen to Steve Wonder and his song about things we don’t understand.