|Author: RussianProspects.com (RP Exclusive)||Date: 05/06/2004
|U18 World Junior Championships Player Performance Recaps Part 2: Forwards - Top Line (Shitikov - Malkin - Parshin)|
|2004 U18 World Junior ChampionshipsRussia’s top line started the tournament off a bit slow, but the
offensive presence picked up significantly after the first couple of games. The
higher level of competition and the larger, more physical opponents exposed the
line’s primary downside – it’s relative lack of size past Malkin.
Both Shitikov and Parshin were unable to effectively compete, especially in the
games against the North American squads due to their relatively small size. Russian
defenseman Kiril Lyamin made an effective debut on the national team and offset
the first line’s size vows by often joining in on the rush and provided
an additional element to Russia’s attack.
Below are the individual performance recaps and grades of each forward the
U18 Russian National team’s top line. The grading scale is from one to
five, with one being the worst possible grade and five being the best possible
Evgeni Malkin C (Grade A-): Evgeny Malkin delivered an excellent
performance. The talented center started the tournament off a bit slow, with
his line struggling to put the puck in the net early in the tournament. As the
tournament went on, Malkin’s production returned to normal, and the center
finished second in scoring behind Roman Voloshenko. The young forward possesses
a great combination of size, skill and hockey sense. He did not hesitate to
throw his large frame around and often dictated the tempo of the game with his
speed, passing and great puckhandling.
A big difference between the U18 WJC and the previous tournaments was the fact
that Malkin was forced to carry his line a lot more than before. At the previous
tournaments, which were mostly against European squads, his smaller linemates
Parshin and Shitikov could hold their own physically against the opponents.
The two young forwards, especially Parshin, struggled to adjust to the more
physical hockey against bigger opponents. Malkin did effectively interact with
Parhsin, who set up Malkin up on several occasions. He also played well with
Kiril Lyamin, who often chipped in the offensive zone. Shitikov’s role
was more that of clean up, as he scored most of his goals by collecting the
rebounds near the crease and putting them in the net. While Malkin was effective
in the earlier games of the tournament, he really revved up his game during
the semifinals and finals games against Canada and the US. Against Canada, the
talented center was a threat whenever he skated on the ice and set up an open
net goal by Shitikov early in the game, and then scored a goal of his own.
Regardless of his production, which was impressive on its own, Malkin delivered
a consistent presence at both ends of the ice and took a lot of pressure off
his linemates, as well as the other lines with his play. The young forward was
also very solid defensively throughout the tournament, logging a lot of time
in shorthanded situations.
Denis Parshin LW (Grade B-): Denis Parshin did not have a
bad tournament, but he did not deliver the type of a performance that was imperative
to boost his draft rating. The concerns regarding the young forward’s
size appear to have merit, as he had trouble adjusting to the higher level of
competition against bigger, more physical opponents and did not play at the
same level as he did at the Five Nations tournament in February. It wasn’t,
however, due to the lack of trying, as Parshin did showcase his great puckhandling
and above average skating. He tried to stay in the thick of the action, but
the larger players often neutralized him. As usual, Parshin did form an impressive
passing tandem with Malkin, and the two created some great combinations in the
offensive zone. While Parshin did put together a good showing at the tournament,
his lack of size became more apparent than ever, and hurt his overall draft
Dmitri Shitikov RW (Grade C): Dmitri Shitikov did not deliver
a solid performance at the U18 WJC. Despite his poor showing at the February’s
5 Nations Tournament, Shitikov retained his spot on Russia’s top line.
This was a stroke of fortune for the young forward, as he was given an opportunity
to maximize his exposure to the NHL scouts. However, instead of showcasing his
skills, Shitikov appeared to lack the speed he displayed just a year ago at
the 2003 U18 WJC. He also made some poor decisions in the offensive zone, at
times unwilling to share the puck with his linemates. Two of his three goals
were very lucky, which is typical for Shitikov, who is known to be a finisher,
who tends to wait by the net. His first goal was actually a passing attempt
through the crease that went off a defenseman’s skate and through the
unprepared goalie. The second goal was an accidental one-timer, where the young
forward redirected a feed from Malkin.
Overall, Shitikov’s performance at the U18 WJC once again reinforced
the perception that Shitikov’s success largely depends on his linemates.
He is a fairly skilled forward with a great sense of the net, but he lacks the
hockey sense, size or speed to be effective without playmaking linemates such
as Malkin and Parshin.
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