The Russian team opened the Subway Super Series tournament with a 6-2 victory on Monday night at the newly built Centre d’Excellence Sports Rosseau in Blainville-Boisbriand, located just outside of Montreal.
Russia sent over their strongest team to date, headlined by Nail Yakupov, the 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and Andrei Vasilevski, a 1st round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both players had big roles in capturing game one of the six-game cross-country showcase.
Here are some thoughts from the HockeyProspect.com scouting staff on last night’s game.
Without question, goaltender Andrei Vasilevski stole the show. The game was still fairly tight midway through the 2nd period and a big part of that had to do with Vasilevski’s stellar play.
The QMJHL led decisively on the shot clock and Vasilevski came up huge making some outstanding saves. He has such great size, but he reacts very quickly to the play. It’s this combination of size, quickness and positional awareness that makes him so good. We’ve seen him let in a weak goal here and there, but he stood on his head and was our first star in this game.
The next biggest impact for Russia was Nail Yakupov. He scored the second goal of the game and assisted on an insurance goal. Mind you he really didn’t show us anything different. For a player with the skill set Yakupov possesses, that’s not really a bad thing.
Nail showed off his shiftiness and maintains his love for the drop pass when entering the offensive zone. He distributed the puck quite a bit to get his linemates involved. He has a powerful shot, but it was a weak one that rolled off his stick and ended up beating Marcoux.
Yakupov will undoubtedly be the selling point of this event and, should Russia win their first ever Subway Super Series, he will need to lead the way.
Despite playing in his third game in three days, Nathan MacKinnon showed exactly why he is the current #1 prospect for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He was consistently showing off his great hands and playmaking ability while setting up teammates for scoring chances.
He showed flashes of his high-end skill, which he put on display for us in a league game on Saturday in Drummondville. MacKinnon not registering a point was more of a tribute to the way Vasilevski played than a lack of effort from Nathan.
For Detroit Red Wings prospect Xavier Ouellet, playing in front of a hometown crowd really gave him a lift. He put on a great performance playing reliably in his own end and making several big defensive plays.
The Armada captain also chipped in at the other end of the ice scoring the first goal for the CHL in this year’s installment of the Subway Super Series. He then added an assist late in the game to give him points on both QMJHL goals. Without question, Xavier would have to be considered the best player for the QMJHL in this game.