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1972 Summit Series - Team USSR's performance

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08-17-2012, 08:59 AM
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1972 Summit Series - Team USSR's performance

Has it been 40 years ALREADY? Well, it's not September yet, but I'll make a little head start here.

I haven't watched the games lately - somehow the thought of watching them all is a bit tedious at the moment - but for quite a long time, the 8 games played in 1972 were the only classic hockey games I had, so I watched them a few times back then, and these impressions & reminiscences on the games and Soviet players in the series are based on that. This is certainly not a 'scientific study' or 'in-depth analysis' etc., although I'd love to see someone do it.

At certain points during the process, my mind went blank, so I may well talk out of my arse at times. Let's just say that you won't get a whole lot of information on players like Solodukhin or Poladiev here. Forgive me. And there are almost bound to be crappy English and mistakes concerning lineups and whatnot. I'll try to fix them later if that is the case.

Game 1

Forwards:
Kharlamov-Maltsev-Vikulov
Blinov-Petrov-Mikhailov
Yakushev-Shadrin-Zimin
Mishakov

Defense:
Tsygankov-Ragulin
Kuzkin-Gusev
Lyapkin-Poladiev
Lutchenko

Goalie:
Tretiak

The perfectly-conditioned, flawless Soviet hockey machine destroys the ill-prepared, poor put-upon Canadians who were not informed! Well, it’s not quite like that – not on the ice it isn’t. In the first half of the 3rd period, it still looks like anybody’s game. Only when Mikhailov, in the middle of pressure from Team Canada, scores 5-3, do the Soviets run away with it, and the exhausted Canadian players can’t do anything about that. Of course, ‘nobody’ thought that Team USSR was even going to be competitive, let alone beat Canada. I’d want to say that the Soviets were brilliant in this game, but I’m not so sure; I think they were somewhat lucky that Canada was not prepared for a challenge. The Soviets make quite a few defensive blunders, but luckily for them, Tretiak, after a shaky start, finds his confidence in net and Canada’s finishing is not very sharp or imaginative; mostly slapshots, slapshots, slapshots, even when they have 2 on 1 or something. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to cheapen the Soviet victory; they showed their skill and power. It was obvious to anyone that this would not be the cakewalk that was predicted. However, let’s just say that it is not the greatest game ever played, quality-wise. Valeri Kharlamov is the game MVP for USSR, which I feel is about right. 2 goals, no, 2 GREAT goals, and he dipsy-doodled his way to the hearts of hockey fans around the world *ohhhh*. I don’t want to name any other players; almost everyone played more or less well.

Game 2

Forwards:
Kharlamov-Starshinov-Maltsev
Mishakov-Petrov-Mikhailov
Yakushev-Shadrin-Zimin
Anisin

Defense:
Tsygankov-Ragulin
Kuzkin-Gusev
Lyapkin-Poladiev
Lutchenko

Goalie:
Tretiak

One of the great turnarounds in the history of sports. There was just something about Toronto; I don’t mean only this game, think of game 2 of the 1974 WHA series or the 1st final of the 1976 Canada Cup. But let’s go back to this game. I guess coach Bobrov had never heard of or was not high on the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Or did he think that it would be easy after the first game (surely not?!)? Whatever the case, he had made unnecessary adjustments on the forward lines. Ol’ Vyacheslav Starshinov centering Maltsev and Kharlamov? Well, that didn’t work very well. Mishakov replacing Yury Blinov on the 2nd line, what was he looking for there, more physicality? Fair enough, but they were still dominated in that area, as they were mostly line-matched against Wayne Cashman, Phil Esposito and J-P Parise. Rather unsurprisingly, the best Soviet forward line in the game is Shadrin’s line that had stayed intact. As I said, I don’t think the Soviets were perfect in the 1st game or anything like that, but still the changes made for this game were not successful. Canada, on the other hand, had to make changes and it worked; Savard on defense, Cashman & Parise digging the puck for Espo etc. and everyone playing their hearts out results to a well-deserved 4-1 win for Canada. Bravo. Well done. Despite the score, Tretiak is the Soviet MVP, no objections from me. However, I would also name the whole Shadrin’s line plus Boris Mikhailov, who showed some nice individual efforts, which – although he did not score – sometimes led to power play chances for USSR, when Canadian players had to stop him illegally.

Game 3

Forwards:
Kharlamov-Maltsev-Mikhailov
Yakushev-Shadrin-Solodukhin
Lebedev-Anisin-Bodunov
Petrov, Mishakov

Defense:
Tsygankov-Lutchenko
Kuzkin-Gusev
Shatalov-Vasiliev

Goalie:
Tretiak

Bobrov’s or Kulagin’s or whoever’s experiments with the forward lines continue. This time, though, they are actually mostly successful: the so called Kid Line (Lebedev-Anisin-Bodunov) scores 2 goals, and you can almost feel the Canadian broadcasting team falling in love with them. Touching. I still think that the Soviets’ top line in the game, Kharlamov-Maltsev-Mikhailov, is their best, despite Kharlamov scoring ‘only’ one goal (SHG), with Mikhailov assisting (I don’t care if the stats say Tsygankov). Mikhailov, instead of Vikulov, on the RW just packs more punch and I think it’s a shame that they didn’t continue with it; if not Mikhailov-Petrov-Kharlamov, then why not this? As far as the game goes, it’s fairly evenly played, but the Soviets have more and better chances to win it in the closing moments. Tretiak is Team USSR’s game MVP, but here I would beg to differ; this was Valery Kharlamov’s game: he was here, there and everywhere and created tons of scoring chances.

Game 4

Forwards:
Kharlamov-Maltsev-Vikulov
Blinov-Petrov-Mikhailov
Lebedev-Anisin-Bodunov
Yakushev, Shadrin

Defense:
Tsygankov-Ragulin
Kuzkin-Lutchenko
Vasiliev-Poladiev

Goalie:
Tretiak

The best game by the Soviets, and Canada is never really in it. I just have a memory of Phil Esposito shaking his head when on his way to the bench after a particularly bad shift. Petrov’s line scores 3 goals and others complement. This is of course the game in which the audience boos (and Espo “cannot believe it”!) their own team, and I’m tempted to say that they deserved it. But Team USSR probably showed the best hockey they had to offer, so that should be taken into consideration when judging Team Canada’s play. Mikhailov got the MVP award, which is cool. Some might feel that Tretiak would have deserved it, but it’s not like he had to keep the Soviets in the game at any moment. So it was to Russia, with love… or with fear and loathing, I don’t know.

Game 5

Forwards:
Kharlamov-Maltsev-Vikulov
Blinov-Petrov-Mikhailov
Yakushev-Shadrin-Martynyuk
Mishakov, Anisin

Defense:
Tsygankov-Ragulin
Kuzkin-Gusev
Lyapkin-Lutchenko

Goalie:
Tretiak

Since Team USSR often had the edge in play in the smaller rinks of Canada, the Soviet players will skate rings around Canadian players on a big ice-surface, right? NO! Firstly, this was not a particularly speedy Soviet team. Of the superstar level players, only Maltsev and Kharlamov were really good skaters. Yakushev showed some good bursts of speed for such a big man. But Mikhailov, Petrov, Shadrin, Vikulov, none of them were superfast or anything. Canada had Cournoyer, Henderson and, although not after g5, Perreault, who were all capable of skating even with the fastest Soviets. With their superior passing, the Russians still ‘played faster’, but Team Canada having gotten rid of the most non-performers, having tightened their defense and with their better [fore]checking, it was not so apparent as one would have thought. In this first game in Moscow, Canada has the edge in play and on the scoreboards for the first 45 minutes, but then they tire out and USSR scores 5 goals in the final period. Tony Esposito has his worst game of the series, but it’s really his team’s fault. Petrov and Yakushev split the MVP award (not literally!); no objections.

Game 6

Forwards:
Kharlamov-Maltsev-Vikulov
Yakushev-Shadrin-Volchkov
Lebedev-Anisin-Bodunov
Petrov, Mikhailov

Defense:
Tsygankov-Ragulin
Lyapkin-Lutchenko
Shatalov-Vasiliev

Goalie:
Tretiak

Line-juggling again. For example, Mikhailov and Petrov are used only sparingly, getting regular shifts only in the final period. It doesn’t work. On a positive side, this is when Yakushev, along with Shadrin & Lyapkin & Lutchenko, begins to dominate. The game is marred by the officiating of misters Kompalla and Baader. While the Canadians are getting the worst of their calls, they still disallow what looked like a goal for USSR (PP, Kharlamov, from a pass by Petrov). Also, there is no getting around the fact that Team Canada is playing really dirty. Even before – and after! – the slash Kharlamov is being brutalized; he was not getting out of this game unharmed, that’s what it looks like. Well, as a result of Canada's dirtiness, and Kompalla & Baader, the Soviets have tons of PP opportunities, especially long stretches in the late 2nd/early 3rd period. I can’t tell why, but their power play lacks punch, even when the missed goal is taken into consideration. Credit to TC’s penalty-killing, at least. Dryden is also very good in net. In the other end, Tretiak has a weak moment in the 2nd period, when he lets in 3 goals inside 1 Ĺ minutes. Interestingly, though the slash in the 2nd period de facto ruined the rest of the series for him, Kharlamov finishes this game. All in all, game 6 was a turning point, even if people might have not known it yet. Lutchenko and Yakushev get the MVP.

Game 7

Forwards:
Mishakov-Maltsev-Vikulov
Blinov-Petrov-Mikhailov
Yakushev-Shadrin-Anisin

Defense:
Tsygankov-Ragulin
Kuzkin-Gusev
Lyapkin-Lutchenko
Vasiliev

Goalie:
Tretiak

Mishakov replaces Kharlamov on the top line and guess what, they’re not as good! However, with the 3rd line playing really well and others okay, it’s not like USSR is getting killed here; could have been anyone’s game. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. Unfortunately for the Soviets, even with especially Yakushev playing his a** off, this was also when Phil Esposito and Paul Henderson and their timely goal-scoring had started to become big factors. The Soviets were made to pay for their mistakes and Tretiak couldn’t raise his game to the level he at least would be capable of. So, at 17:54 of the 3rd period, Henderson makes the play of his lifetime (I’m pretty sure of that) and scores. Team USSR is unable to come back. The series is tied. Exciting! MVP goes to Yakushev (obviously) and… wait a minute, Mikhailov ??? Were they impressed that he stood up to the Canadians – not only that, this is the game in which he kicked Gary Bergman with his skates – or what is it? I mean, Yakushev scored 2 goals in the game, but Mikhailov, well, he only ‘assisted’ on Rod Gilbert’s goal (a failed clearing attempt). This is really a mystery and probably will remain as such.

Game 8

Forwards:
Mishakov-Maltsev-Vikulov
Blinov-Petrov-Mikhailov
Yakushev-Shadrin-Anisin
Kharlamov

Defense:
Tsygankov-Lutchenko
Kuzkin-Gusev
Lyapkin-Vasiliev

Goalie:
Tretiak

Ah, you know the story, and I’m too tired already. “Henderson has scored for Canada!” blah blah blah. But just to say something; I like this game very much. Not only it was the deciding game but also arguably the best game of the series, certainly the best game played in Moscow. On and off ice drama and great hockey for 2 periods, and then mainly drama in the last period. I don’t care if the Soviets had the better preparation, both teams are dead tired in the last 20 minutes; it’s Canada, however, who score 3 goals to USSR’s 0. On a personal note, I can’t help feeling frustrated that Petrov’s line, despite having numerous chances especially in the 2nd period, is unable to score. I just cannot believe it at times. USSR's 'psychological trick': Kharlamov, or rather the shadow of Kharlamov, hobbles some shifts and even gets an assist when he plays on a PP unit. 'What if'… anyway, Yakushev and Shadrin share the MVP honors, as you would almost expect at this point of the series. That’s it.


Why did Canada win?

Defense

- It may be a bit too simplified, but basically, I think it came down to this: whereas the Canadian defensemen could handle the Soviet players – except Yakushev – in the slot/on the crease, the Soviet dmen could not do the same, and I’m not just talking about Phil Esposito. The deteriorating play of Vladislav Tretyak did not help either, but IMO the defensive issues were a bigger reason.

'The Soviets’ lack of playoff experience'

-Firstly, it’s not like the key Soviet players hadn’t been in any wars on the ice before. For starters, the pressure on them during the Czechoslovakia games in the 1969 WC must have been enormous, even though they were not at all responsible for the happenings of 1968. And just a few months prior to the Summit series, they had finally lost the world championship to the aforementioned Czechoslovakia. So don’t talk about them never having had real competition or challenges in European hockey. However, since there was no playoff system in the Soviet league (right?) or in the WCs/Winter Olympics, it might have very well been that the NHL players were more used to those ‘life and death’ situations on the ice and thus had that advantage in a ‘best of’ series like this. But I don’t want to over-emphasize this point, because there is enough of that “the Soviet players were robots” nonsense a la Phil Esposito already as it is.

Their edge in preparation and conditioning was gone in Russia

- As the Soviets did not have the big edge in conditioning and preparation in Russia anymore, they could not dominate like they could often in Canada. Having said that, Team Canada couldn’t dominate either, and the final 3 games were about as even as the final scores indicate. It’s just that in the decisive moments, Canadians made less mistakes and were stronger in the areas where the goals are being scored.

Canada was still #1 in 1972

- The Soviets had possibly not reached quite that level yet. Later on (post-1978), the Soviets had teams that were favored to beat any team Canada could put together (not on paper but on the ice), but it would take some time. True, if Kharlamov hadn’t been a victim of such unfair attack, the result might have been different, but the Canadians of course can throw the names of Bobbys Orr and Hull. While their absence was not the Soviets’ fault and it certainly doesn’t excuse Clarke’s actions, it still shows that Team Canada had more ‘what ifs’, as far as missing superstar players go. Outside healthy Kharlamov in the last 2 games, the only ‘what if’ I can think of is Anatoly Firsov. He and coach Bobrov didn’t get along, but if the Soviet powers-that-be had felt that it was necessary to have Firsov on the team, he would have played, no matter what. Then again, who knows, he just might have still had 8 great games in him, even as late as September ’72. Of course, that’s a lot less certain ‘what if’ than Orr/Hull.


Last edited by VMBM: 08-22-2012 at 05:29 AM. Reason: corrections on the lineups (D, game 6)
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08-17-2012, 09:02 AM
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Soviet players

Forwards:

Valery Kharlamov


I shall say this: he could have been the best Soviet player of the series, if the slash hadn’t happened. After 5 games, there were still a few other contenders for that ‘title’ in my opinion. After all, while Kharlamov had been brilliant in games 1 and 3 and very good in game 5, he didn’t show much in game 2 and was merely okay in game 4. But this is the opinion of a guy who has just watched the games; obviously the Canadians felt that they needed to get rid of him to get an advantage. Overall, Kharlamov was the best Soviet player between 1972 and 1976.

Alexander Maltsev

If a player who has scored the most goals in international play of any Soviet player in history (212 according to a source) goes scoreless in an 8 game series, it can be said that he was a disappointment, yes? And my eye test also tells me that he could have played better. His considerable skills are on show on many occasions, but this was not the Maltsev who was selected the best forward just a few months previously at the 1972 WC. Regardless of what I say, though, the Canadian players – including Bobby Clarke – loved him and his style of play. And he did find some success as a playmaker in Moscow, when USSR scored key PP goals in games 7 and 8.

Vladimir Vikulov

Played 6 games on the top line with Maltsev and Kharlamov (/Mishakov). Despite losing the world championship to Czechoslovakia in the 1972 WC, that line had been brilliant in the tournament and Vikulov was the All-Star RW. So keeping that in mind, Vikulov was one of the underachievers. Great technical skills, but in the end, was one of the lesser Soviet stars in the series. Bobrov must have agreed, since he kept Vikulov on the bench in games 2 and 3 (though he might have been injured, I’m not sure). But he scored the GWG in game 5, so that was his big moment.

Yury Blinov

The history books say that he played a somewhat weak series, right? Well, I don’t know. At least I can say that when he played with Mikhailov and Petrov (games 1, 4, 5, 7, 8), the line functioned better than with Mishakov or Volchkov in his place (game 2 and 3rd period of game 6, respectively). Looked fairly weak physically and didn’t stand out in any game, but for someone who was never really a big star, I think he did okay. And heck, he could have been one of the heroes in game 8; after already having beaten Dryden with a nice fake, he failed to finish the job, when Phil Esposito saved his shot from the goal line. I’m sure he still has nightmares of that play.

Vladimir Petrov

Had a solid series in my opinion. Good playmaking, good penalty killing (often paired with Mikhailov or Mishakov), good defensive play. And he was one of the Soviet players who could stand up to Canadian players physically. He was also arguably the best Soviet forechecker in the series; him stealing the puck resulted to many scoring chances. On a negative side, he did not raise his game to that another level, and he took too many penalties in the deciding game. However, if he wasn’t the best center in Europe yet, he would at least become that for many years to come, and this series might have been an important step in the development.

Boris Mikhailov

I don’t know how popular an opinion this is, but IMO he was the best Soviet skater (as in ‘non-goalie’) in Canada. True, he did not shine like, say, Kharlamov did at best, but he was more consistent. And he was not afraid to mix it up, despite often giving away some height and strength. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in Moscow, he did not score a single goal. I don’t care what anybody says, Mikhailov was first and foremost A GOAL SCORER. His main job was always to score goals, and this he failed to do in the last 4 games, despite not lacking in chances (most notably, the 2 on 1 in the 2nd period of game 8). Would I be totally wrong to suggest that even though Mikhailov was nearly 28 at the time of the Summit series, his development as a player was not over yet? Whatever the case, he would become the king of the slot/rebounds, but he was not that in this series, not even on his own team.

Alexander Yakushev

Simply put: the best Soviet player… IN THIS SERIES (just wanting to make that distinction). Yakushev was very good already in Canada, but in the last 2-3 games, he was something else. Not only near the crease, where he was unstoppable, but he was also strong in the corners/boards and showed some great bursts of (straight-ahead) speed on rushes. This was arguably his best international performance – either this or the 1975 WC – and while he continued to be one of the best forwards in European hockey, I don’t think he often reached this level of play again.

Vladimir Shadrin

The unsung Soviet hero? You rarely hear someone rave about Shadrin’s play in the series, or anywhere else for that matter, but he was effective and consistent, if not in a flashy or awe-inspiring way. While Yakushev would have probably been a star in the series anyway, it certainly didn’t hurt that Shadrin was there making plays for him. A dominant performance, physically and skill-wise, and while I’m sure he made some mistakes, I can’t think of any right now.

Yevgeny Zimin

An interesting case. The Canadian play-by-play man Foster Hewitt and the color guy Brian Conacher, who apparently had watched the Soviets practicing, talk about Zimin like he was – forget the anachronism now – the Russian Gretzky. But hey, he does look very impressive in the first 2 games; too bad he was unable to play for the rest of the series. Of course, Soviet hockey history has these players who looked good for a while (Boris Alexandrov comes to mind) but who never became big stars. All I can say is that in games 1 and 2, Zimin is one of the best USSR players and with his long, powerful strides, he looks like the fastest Soviet player in the series.

Yevgeny Mishakov

The long-serving ‘role player’ in Team USSR, who got ice-time, when USSR was short-handed or a forward line needed a replacement. Short, stocky and bow-legged, I don’t think anyone ever mistook him for a superstar, but he performed his duties reasonably well and you can’t blame him for a lack of effort. The only Soviet player who got involved in an actual fight (with Rod Gilbert, g8), unless you count Mikhailov’s ‘fit’ in game 7.

Alexander Bodunov

Part of the ‘Kid Line’ that stole the show somewhat in game 3, with Bodunov scoring the other one of their goals. But when the kid line magic failed to continue in games 4 and 6, Bodunov found himself on the bench.

Vyacheslav Anisin

The center of the Kid Line, when the line performed, but he also played RW on the Shadrin line, mostly in Moscow. Anisin had good speed and skills but didn’t overly impress me in this series. Then again, he was only 21-years old at the time, so in that regard, he probably played pretty well and found some nice chemistry with Yakushev and Shadrin. But he never became a big star in the Soviet national team.

Yury Lebedev

The 3rd ‘kid’, who would later be ‘the new Mishakov’, though clearly a more talented one. What I mean is that he was on the USSR’s roster even as late as the early 1980s but rarely was part of a more permanent forward line. Of course, I’m only writing this, because I don’t have a very strong opinion about his play in the series, he he. Scored a goal in game 3, but other than that, I don’t remember him much, and like Bodunov, was not used outside the Kid Line.

Vyacheslav Starshinov

Centered Maltsev and Kharlamov in game 2, and that was it. Even though he was one of the ‘60s players who did not disappear from the national team in the early 1970s, this series came clearly too late for him. He was never fast, but especially here playing with Kharlamov and Maltsev, he looks like a relic from… from… well, from the 1960s. He doesn’t really get to show his authority in the slot either, as his forward line does not get a sustained pressure going in the game. I wish Anatoly Firsov had played instead. Having now seen some footage from the 1972 Winter Olympics, I’m still not totally convinced that Firsov was over-the-hill in September ’72.

Vyacheslav Solodukhin, Alexander Martynyuk and Alexander Volchkov

What they all have in common is that they played a very little and that I don’t have anything to say about them. *ashamed*

Defensemen

Alexander Ragulin


Physically, the strongest player on the ice, Soviet or Canadian. I would also think that he was a some sort of, if not a father figure, then a ‘big brother’ for many of his team mates. As for his performance, I guess he showed his age at times; after all, this would be his last season in the national team. I’m not totally sure, but I think that in this series at least, he was rather a defensive defenseman, with no big power play or puck-carrying duties. And yes, Cournoyer made him look like a pylon in game 2, but he would have done that to any dman in that situation. In any case, I’d think that Ragulin’s size and strength were at least some sort of scare for the Canadians; this was one man they couldn’t physically manhandle, dat’s for sure, dat’s for sure… Bobrov did not put him out there in the deciding game.

Gennady Tsygankov

Another defensive defenseman, and Ragulin’s partner for much of the series. I think he got a lot of blame (in Soviet Union) for letting Paul Henderson beat him 1-on-1 in game 7 and he was not successful in clearing the crease when Cournoyer scored the 5-5 equalizer in game 8 either. Tsygankov was not a key member on any PP units, so it’s really his defensive work his performance would be judged by. So, it could be said that he was good in Canada, but failed to deliver in the deciding moments in Moscow.

Viktor Kuzkin

Another survivor from the 1960s. Played mostly behind Petrov’s line. But the funny thing (HA HA HA) is that I don’t really have an impression of his play in the series. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? Probably the same would apply to him as to many other Soviet players; he was somewhat better in Canada than in Russia. Kuzkin played in 7 games, so Bobrov et co. at least did not feel there was any great need to replace him. 3 stars? 2.5? 3.5?

Alexander Gusev

I've never been a fan of his. Admittedly, when he was playing well, he looked good, but was always far too mistake-prone for my liking; it was not so rare that Gusev would lose the puck near his own goal - and the results would often be disasterous. Here, though, he didn't catch my eye in a negative sense, although like almost every other Soviet dman, he had problems in clearing the crease and preventing the Canadian forwards from scoring from the slot. Scored the equalizer in game 5 and was one of the better puck carriers among USSR's blue-liners.

Yury Lyapkin

Had some really good chemistry with his team mates from Spartak, Yakushev and Shadrin. Dare I say, he might have been the closest thing to Fetisov in the series, though obviously he did not possess similar offensive and defensive skills. However, he was one of the few Soviet defensemen who raised their game in Moscow, though I’m not sure whether he was just merely lucky to play behind hot Yakushev and Shadrin. Ah, let’s be nice; Lyapkin gained some and they gained some. I will say, though, that his stats flatter him just a bit; I think one or two of his assists should belong to Lutchenko (the ones responsible for the stats during the series should be shot IMO) .

Vladimir Lutchenko

Even though he did not get a lot of ice-time at first (because he was young?), he ended up being one of the best Soviet dmen in the series. I wouldn’t call him an offensive defenseman, but he, along with Lyapkin, was the key dman on the Soviet power play. Mikhailov deflected 2 of his shots into the net in game 4, and in Moscow, he played mostly behind Yakushev and Shadrin, on even strength and power play. As far as his defensive play goes, he made at least one crucial mistake; on Canadian PP in the 1st period of game 8, it was Lutchenko who accidentally tipped in the rebound at 6:45, which made it 1-1. Yes, kids, while Phil Esposito got the credit for the goal, I don’t think he even touched the puck, though his presence near the crease obviously led Lutchenko to make that mistake. However, the defensive mistakes by the Soviets are what characterize the last two games, and I don’t think Lutchenko is to blame more so than any other USSR player.

Valery Vasiliev

Was only 23 at the time, and only played in 5 games, but got more ice-time as the series progressed. IMO he did not quite possess the physical presence as he would later on, although he did get involved in some (near-)physical altercations with Canadian players. Ironically, the only great hip-check (his 'trademark') I remember him delivering was in the 3rd period of game 8 and what happens? Those ‘pro-Soviet’ refs award him a 2-minute penalty for that! All in all, he played a solid series, but it was not quite Vasiliev’s time yet. And just one more thing… I don’t know why Yury Lyapkin has gotten the blame – there’s a quote where even Lyapkin blames himself – for the deciding goal in game 8; it was rather Vasiliev who mishandled & gave up the puck to Phil Esposito… and the rest is History.

Yevgeny Poladiev

Played only in 3 early games, so I don’t think Bobrov was happy with his performance. I remember that he was the last dman Pete Mahovlich beat when scoring his famous (though slightly overrated IMO) SHG in game 2. That’s about it.

Yury Shatalov

Like Lyapkin, he was a right-hand shot; that’s my main impression of him. Pass!

The goalie:

Vladislav Tretiak


You know the story: great in Canada, okay/mediocre in Moscow. He was only 20 years old at the time, but I don’t know how big a deal that really is, as he obviously was mature beyond his years and had been with the national team already since 1969, and the top goalie on Team USSR from 1972 Winter Olympics on, I think. Anyway, I’d still ‘blame’ the defensive blunders for their loss rather than Tretiak’s play.


Last edited by VMBM: 08-23-2012 at 05:17 AM.
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08-17-2012, 11:13 AM
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Excellent Overview

VMBM, excellent overview of the games and the Soviet players. Notice that you did not look at the coaching and management, which was very weak on both sides. You allude to this in the various critiques of game roster and in game decisions. Similar critiques may be made for the coaching and management of Team Canada.

Comments about two of the players require some further explanation.

Boris Mikhailov. Learned from his experience fighting for position against the Team Canada defense. Basically the TC defense got him into positional battles in front of the net and away from playing the puck at the same time. Phil Esposito was able to do both - fight for position and play the puck. Mikhailov learned and was better post 1972.

Alexander Yakushev. His varied skills allowed him to play a more linear North - South game against Team Canada, putting pressure on the defense from the outside and inside. The other Soviet forwards did not do this. Did these skills and approach always fit with the Soviet approach to hockey?

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09-03-2012, 01:47 PM
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Love it, nice reading!

I can't wait to visit the 40th anniversary festivities!

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09-03-2012, 03:04 PM
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Alexander Ragulin[/B]

Physically, the strongest player on the ice, Soviet or Canadian. I would also think that he was a some sort of, if not a father figure, then a Ďbig brotherí for many of his team mates. As for his performance, I guess he showed his age at times; after all, this would be his last season in the national team. Iím not totally sure, but I think that in this series at least, he was rather a defensive defenseman, with no big power play or puck-carrying duties. And yes, Cournoyer made him look like a pylon in game 2, but he would have done that to any dman in that situation. In any case, Iíd think that Ragulinís size and strength were at least some sort of scare for the Canadians; this was one man they couldnít physically manhandle, datís for sure, datís for sureÖ Bobrov did not put him out there in the deciding game.
Excellent summary of Team USSR's performance. Minor clarification - Ragulin was not benched in the Game 8, he sustained a leg injury and was thus unable to play.

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09-04-2012, 02:43 AM
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Excellent summary of Team USSR's performance. Minor clarification - Ragulin was not benched in the Game 8, he sustained a leg injury and was thus unable to play.
Thanks (for the compliment & info) I wish I had had more time & patience to check all the facts plus watch all the games through and through. Maybe Ragulin - being a very strong player - would have helped, when you think of the goals that were scored by Team Canada in the final game (all of them near the goal, I think).

There are also a few things I'm not so sure of anymore: e.g. I should probably have given more credit to Anisin. I've also been informed that maybe Maltsev was not as ineffective as I thought, as far as goalscoring goes... but I'll leave it at that for now.

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09-09-2012, 01:03 PM
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Watched Game 3 today again... great stuff, truly.

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09-10-2012, 10:59 AM
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Watched Game 3 today again... great stuff, truly.
Funny you should mention, I am watching Game 2 Today!

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09-15-2012, 02:24 PM
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Watched Game 8 yesterday! Canada Won!

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09-20-2012, 05:49 PM
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Their performance was very good. This is a rare time when each team comes from a series a winner, so to speak. Canada won, but the Soviets got a lot of respect. I think their play in Moscow for some reason suffered. Maybe it was Canada figuring them out and getting in shape themselves but Tretiak seemed to infallible in the first 4 games and then mediocre when the chips were down. He was 20, so I'll give him that.

I think a lot of it has to do with coaching as well. The Soviets lost the last three games by a goal. Not once did they pull their goalie. They didn't do it in the 1980 Miracle on Ice game or the 1987 Canada Cup rubber match either. All games decided by a goal. Maybe it was stubborness or the fact that they never practiced it but you would have to think that one of those games they could have tied it in 1972 if they pull the goalie. Maybe not Game 8 since 34 seconds is not a lot of time but Game 6 & 7 had plenty of time left. I don't know.

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09-20-2012, 06:43 PM
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I think a lot of it has to do with coaching as well. The Soviets lost the last three games by a goal. Not once did they pull their goalie. They didn't do it in the 1980 Miracle on Ice game or the 1987 Canada Cup rubber match either. All games decided by a goal. Maybe it was stubborness or the fact that they never practiced it but you would have to think that one of those games they could have tied it in 1972 if they pull the goalie. Maybe not Game 8 since 34 seconds is not a lot of time but Game 6 & 7 had plenty of time left. I don't know.
My guess is that the decision not to pull the goalie was at least in part influenced by European views on goal differential.

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09-21-2012, 08:04 AM
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I think a lot of it has to do with coaching as well. The Soviets lost the last three games by a goal. Not once did they pull their goalie. They didn't do it in the 1980 Miracle on Ice game or the 1987 Canada Cup rubber match either. All games decided by a goal. Maybe it was stubborness or the fact that they never practiced it but you would have to think that one of those games they could have tied it in 1972 if they pull the goalie. Maybe not Game 8 since 34 seconds is not a lot of time but Game 6 & 7 had plenty of time left. I don't know.
That stupidity - if you will - continued even after the Soviet Union ceased to exist! I remember some World Championships or Winter Olympics (1994 Lillehammer?), when Boris Mikhailov was the head coach of the Russian national team; in the closing moments of a Semi-final or something, Russia was trailing by one goal and, well, the same thing (i.e. nothing) happened; I remember even the goalie looking at the bench like, "wtf, should I get off the ice or what?". The Finnish broadcasters and papers really 'condemned' Mikhailov for not pulling the goalie. Okay, it's not hard to guess from who (or at least from where) Mikhailov learned his craft (as a coach), but it was simply inexcusable.

In the 1980 Olympics, USSR still had a chance to win the gold even after the Miracle game... if Finland had beaten* USA in the last game (which they didn't) and USSR had beaten Sweden (which they did, finally playing like they should have with that roster), that is. Not that the Soviets were just counting on that (or if so, they were pretty gullible) or even thinking about the remaining games at that moment. But it probably had to do with the Soviet league/international tournaments not having a playoff system (i.e. quarter finals, semifinals, final) back then, so things like the importance of a goal differential (that was mentioned in the previous post) and consistency had a totally different meaning.
I'd also think the Soviet national team had been so superior for much of the sixties that they didn't have to concentrate on these kind of tactics much. BUT Czechoslovakia had started to beat them, if not often, then at least 'regularly' around 1969; e.g. in the 1969 WC, CSSR beat the Soviets twice. However, since the Soviets had beaten Sweden twice, and Sweden, in turn, beat Czechoslovakia twice, they won the gold medal by goal differential (there's an anecdote of Tarasov literally thanking the Swedes for playing the both CSSR games "seriously"). TO MAKE A LONG AND BORING STORY SHORT, they had had those kind of tight situations even before 1972, even if never in the same magnitude. In game 8 of the 1972 series, I'd think that they (coaching staff) were probably too shocked by Henderson's goal to even think about pulling the goalie, whatever the case. BTW, whether other European teams used to pull their goalies in the early seventies, I actually couldn't say.

* I'm not sure whether USA or USSR had won the tournament in the case of a tie


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09-21-2012, 08:46 AM
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Removing the Goalie

Has to be practiced and is dependent on getting the proper sixth skater on the ice for the specific circumstance. Otherwise the sixth skater gets in the way more often then not.

The Soviet system relied on set plays/patterns/units, so the extra skater thrown out at random would have a hard time fitting into the play.

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09-21-2012, 02:31 PM
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I seem to recall reading that Tarasov viewed pulling the goalie essentially the same way most North American fans view diving to draw a penalty - as an unsportsmanlike way to get an advantage in the number of skaters. Essentially, his theory was that if you couldn't win the game without going 6-on-5, you didn't deserve to win.

Also, due to goal differential usually being the first tiebreaker in international tournaments, it was often not to a team's advantage to give up an empty net goal.

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09-21-2012, 05:00 PM
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That stupidity - if you will - continued even after the Soviet Union ceased to exist! I remember some World Championships or Winter Olympics (1994 Lillehammer?), when Boris Mikhailov was the head coach of the Russian national team; in the closing moments of a Semi-final or something, Russia was trailing by one goal and, well, the same thing (i.e. nothing) happened; I remember even the goalie looking at the bench like, "wtf, should I get off the ice or what?". The Finnish broadcasters and papers really 'condemned' Mikhailov for not pulling the goalie. Okay, it's not hard to guess from who (or at least from where) Mikhailov learned his craft (as a coach), but it was simply inexcusable.

In the 1980 Olympics, USSR still had a chance to win the gold even after the Miracle game... if Finland had beaten* USA in the last game (which they didn't) and USSR had beaten Sweden (which they did, finally playing like they should have with that roster), that is. Not that the Soviets were just counting on that (or if so, they were pretty gullible) or even thinking about the remaining games at that moment. But it probably had to do with the Soviet league/international tournaments not having a playoff system (i.e. quarter finals, semifinals, final) back then, so things like the importance of a goal differential (that was mentioned in the previous post) and consistency had a totally different meaning.
I'd also think the Soviet national team had been so superior for much of the sixties that they didn't have to concentrate on these kind of tactics much. BUT Czechoslovakia had started to beat them, if not often, then at least 'regularly' around 1969; e.g. in the 1969 WC, CSSR beat the Soviets twice. However, since the Soviets had beaten Sweden twice, and Sweden, in turn, beat Czechoslovakia twice, they won the gold medal by goal differential (there's an anecdote of Tarasov literally thanking the Swedes for playing the both CSSR games "seriously"). TO MAKE A LONG AND BORING STORY SHORT, they had had those kind of tight situations even before 1972, even if never in the same magnitude. In game 8 of the 1972 series, I'd think that they (coaching staff) were probably too shocked by Henderson's goal to even think about pulling the goalie, whatever the case. BTW, whether other European teams used to pull their goalies in the early seventies, I actually couldn't say.

* I'm not sure whether USA or USSR had won the tournament in the case of a tie
I think it then comes down to coaching. A great coach adjusts to the situations around him. You adjust to the NHL ice to the Olympic sized ice all the time. Or juggling the lines etc. Either way, hockey is played on the ice, not on paper. The robotic way of thinking for the Soviets at that time had its advantages with playing in a system but this is a case where it had a distinct disadvantage. Kind of reminds me of the flack (deservingly) that Marc Crawford got for not practicing the shootout in 1998. All of the sudden Lindros and co. don't give you a 3 goal lead and you are in a shootout. What do you do? Well, he panicked and picked in order: a sniper (Fleury), someone who hits targets at the all-star game (Bourque), a player who had been playing well recently (Nieuwendyk), his captain they would live and die with (Lindros) and a power forward not known for breakaway speed or shiftiness (Shanahan). Meanwhile he leaves the shifty Yzerman and Recchi on the bench and Gretzky as well who had a better chance than anyone of outsmarting Hasek.

Who knows if the player changes help at all but had Crawford been practicing the shootout he might have realized he had better options than a defenseman and a power forward who didn't score those types of goals. No offense to Shanny, 650 goals is wonderful but he should never have been their "closer".

So I see the same thing with the Soviets. Could they have won either one of the very important one goal games (three in 1972, Miracle on Ice game and Game 3 of the 1987 Canada Cup) with better coaching? We'll never know.

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09-22-2012, 03:59 AM
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So I see the same thing with the Soviets. Could they have won either one of the very important one goal games (three in 1972, Miracle on Ice game and Game 3 of the 1987 Canada Cup) with better coaching? We'll never know.
Of course they could have, but I wouldn't have put my money on them in either case, certainly not in game 8 of 1972 at least (34 seconds left).

However, if there was such a negative attitude towards pulling the goalie in Soviet Union and, as a result, they never practised it, it probably wouldn't have been much use, and in some cases maybe even harmful (though, as it was, even if the tactic had failed every time, it wouldn't have made any difference in 1972, 1980 or 1987). Although I don't think 6-on-5 differs that much from a regular PP situation as C1958 makes it out to be - and of course, the Soviets, like every other team, pulled the goalie for an extra attacker when the opposite team was about to have a penalty and they had the puck - the results still would have probably been weak. Also, back in the seventies, the Soviet players in general were pretty lousy at faceoffs; Petrov was okay, Maltsev was okay, Shadrin was okay (basically the centers or center/winger in Maltsev's case), but that's about it. I would think that winning the draw and getting the puck to your team is pretty important especially when there's no one guarding the net! I don't know about the 'cause and effect' relationship here, but they were just things that the Soviets did not concentrate on much, I guess.


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09-22-2012, 06:41 AM
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Removing the Goalie II

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Of course they could have, but I wouldn't have put my money on them in either case, certainly not in game 8 of 1972 at least (34 seconds left).

However, if there was such a negative attitude towards pulling the goalie in Soviet Union and, as a result, they never practised it, it probably wouldn't have been much use, and in some cases maybe even harmful (though, as it was, even if the tactic had failed every time, it wouldn't have made any difference in 1972, 1980 or 1987). Although I don't think 6-on-5 differs that much from a regular PP situation as C1958 makes it out to be - and of course, the Soviets, like every other team, pulled the goalie for an extra attacker when the opposite team was about to have a penalty and they had the puck - the results still would have probably been weak. Also, back in the seventies, the Soviet players in general were pretty lousy at faceoffs; Petrov was okay, Maltsev was okay, Shadrin was okay (basically the centers or center/winger in Maltsev's case), but that's about it. I would think that winning the draw and getting the puck to your team is pretty important especially when there's no one guarding the net! I don't know about the 'cause and effect' relationship here, but they were just things that the Soviets did not concentrate on much, I guess.
Big difference.

First, a regular PP means that 5 on 5 becomes 5 on 4 so in the offensive zone the attacking team has more space to operate. Critical element of the Soviet offence. Pulling the goalie creates a 6 on 5. So the same offensive zone is now divided amongst 11 skaters not 10 or 9. The attacking team skaters 6, have to divide the same space as 5 did before. Passing lanes and patterns would have to accommodate 6 skaters instead of 5.

Second point that is overlooked is who becomes the 6th skater? Very easy to say throw out a 6th skater but who? Soviets did not have a forward capable of blasting from the point so they would have to play two defensemen plus 4 forwards. This means two centers or two LWs or two RWs. Two centers would be the optimum since faceoffs are a factor but getting two centers to play in harmony requires practice.Maltsev would be the best choice as the sixth skater since he could play center or wing but could he do it in harmony with the other skater at the same position?

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09-22-2012, 11:11 AM
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Maltsev was a bit of a choker. Never came through when it mattered. But he is still (inexplicably) revered in Russia.

Russian coaches are notoriously stubborn. Bykov was a great example. When he was willing to learn and adjust, he did wonderfully. Once he decided he had all the answers, he failed miserably.

The problem is: Team Russia does not do well with "non-strong-arm" coaches. Yakushev in the WHC2000 and Fetisov in SLC were, by all accounts, failures. Yurzinov in Nagano did fairly well, but the players were probably the most motivated in years (after the WC96 fiasco).

We'll see how Bilyaletdinov fares.

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09-22-2012, 12:43 PM
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Of course they could have, but I wouldn't have put my money on them in either case, certainly not in game 8 of 1972 at least (34 seconds left).

However, if there was such a negative attitude towards pulling the goalie in Soviet Union and, as a result, they never practised it, it probably wouldn't have been much use, and in some cases maybe even harmful (though, as it was, even if the tactic had failed every time, it wouldn't have made any difference in 1972, 1980 or 1987). Although I don't think 6-on-5 differs that much from a regular PP situation as C1958 makes it out to be - and of course, the Soviets, like every other team, pulled the goalie for an extra attacker when the opposite team was about to have a penalty and they had the puck - the results still would have probably been weak. Also, back in the seventies, the Soviet players in general were pretty lousy at faceoffs; Petrov was okay, Maltsev was okay, Shadrin was okay (basically the centers or center/winger in Maltsev's case), but that's about it. I would think that winning the draw and getting the puck to your team is pretty important especially when there's no one guarding the net! I don't know about the 'cause and effect' relationship here, but they were just things that the Soviets did not concentrate on much, I guess.
Fair point, they were not good on faceoffs by any means, that is certainly the truth which would have hindered their chances at doing anything productive with the net empty

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09-25-2012, 07:43 AM
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Bobrov+Kulagin vs. Tarasov

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Maltsev was a bit of a choker. Never came through when it mattered. But he is still (inexplicably) revered in Russia.

Russian coaches are notoriously stubborn.
Both Maltsev and Vikulov were badly roasted in the press for underperforming in the Summit series. Still afterwards, Maltsev managed to retain his roster spot on the NT, whereas Vikulov was dropped out and henceforth made only casual appearances for USSR/

Secondly, there were old scores still unsettled between Bobrov/Kulagin and the former NT coach Tarasov. The latter then iced two top lines at CSKA, Blinov – Petrov – Mikhailov and Kharlamov – Firsov – Vikulov. Bobrov&Kulagin duo teamed up with the Federation to strong-arm Tarasov into line-up changes that ran counter to his team strategy. The very first regular championship game after the New Year break though, against Dynamo Moscow, saw a reunited KPM line, brought back together "for the benefit of the National Team". This resulted in a substantially weakened 2nd line, now flanked by journeyman Trunov and put a downer on Firsov and Vikulov, whose spirit and point production sank. In a next anti-Tarasov gesture,. NT captain Kuz'kin was dropped from the NT while Bobrov took a deft move, having teammate Mikhailov elected NT's captain at the same time that CSKA was still captained by Kuzkin, spiraling the club players into further disarray and discord. The team was a shambles, torn apart by internal tension between "internationals" and the rest. In mid season 1974, Tarasov, at his own risk, successfully reshuffled his two top lines for five-odd games, moving Kharlamov back to a line with Vikulov and Trunov, followed by another bark from top officials (Firsov was already retired). As a result, a dispirited CSKA lost the league to Krilya Sovietov that season.

In a word, principles of team selection by the Soviet NT coaches were about settling accounts with their foe Tarassov, rather than picking best available players. Ultimately, the vengeful Bobrov/ who had a background drink problem had to pay the ultimate price, being fired as NT coach for drunk behavior at a testimonial dinner celebrating USSR’s win at 1974 WHC. Hoisted by his own petard.


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09-25-2012, 09:11 AM
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BUT Czechoslovakia had started to beat them, if not often, then at least 'regularly' around 1969; e.g. in the 1969 WC, CSSR beat the Soviets twice. However, since the Soviets had beaten Sweden twice, and Sweden, in turn, beat Czechoslovakia twice, they won the gold medal by goal differential (there's an anecdote of Tarasov literally thanking the Swedes for playing the both CSSR games "seriously").
I have such a great deal to tell you guys about that WHC... Maybe a bit later...

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In game 8 of the 1972 series, I'd think that they (coaching staff) were probably too shocked by Henderson's goal to even think about pulling the goalie, whatever the case. BTW, whether other European teams used to pull their goalies in the early seventies, I actually couldn't say.
Agree 100%. Plus, they had little experience in 6 on 5 those days, only Spartak Moscow and Soviet Wings (under Kulagin) would withdraw their goalie for a skater at the time. Once or twice it did pay. Besides the regular championship, there still was the USSR's Cup and a pretty meritorious Sovietsky Sport pre-season tourney. Those were playoffs and an extra attacker was always employed by a team trailing by a goal. Up till 1968, sudden death ot was played after regulation time ties. I personally remember Spartak equalizing against Locomotive Moscow 5 seconds from time with the goalie pulled on a blast from the blueline by the legendary d-man Viktor Blinov (who died the sudden cardiac death in the offseason 2 months later). Midway through 1st OT though Lokomotiv stopped the clock though, scoring the winner. The other classic example is a Cup quarterfinal on the Dynamo outdoor rink in 1971, when Starshinov drew his side level with the hosts Dynamo on a 6 on 5 and after the sides traded goals in the OT period, the same Starshinov beat Vladimir Polupanov in the final shot of the penalty shootout.

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09-25-2012, 12:21 PM
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Both Maltsev and Vikulov were badly roasted in the press for underperforming in the Summit series.
Do you have any proof links of that? I would love to know more.

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09-26-2012, 06:16 AM
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Both Maltsev and Vikulov were badly roasted in the press for underperforming in the Summit series. Still afterwards, Maltsev managed to retain his roster spot on the NT, whereas Vikulov was dropped out and henceforth made only casual appearances for USSR/

Secondly, there were old scores still unsettled between Bobrov/Kulagin and the former NT coach Tarasov. The latter then iced two top lines at CSKA, Blinov – Petrov – Mikhailov and Kharlamov – Firsov – Vikulov. Bobrov&Kulagin duo teamed up with the Federation to strong-arm Tarasov into line-up changes that ran counter to his team strategy. The very first regular championship game after the New Year break though, against Dynamo Moscow, saw a reunited KPM line, brought back together "for the benefit of the National Team". This resulted in a substantially weakened 2nd line, now flanked by journeyman Trunov and put a downer on Firsov and Vikulov, whose spirit and point production sank. In a next anti-Tarasov gesture,. NT captain Kuz'kin was dropped from the NT while Bobrov took a deft move, having teammate Mikhailov elected NT's captain at the same time that CSKA was still captained by Kuzkin, spiraling the club players into further disarray and discord. The team was a shambles, torn apart by internal tension between "internationals" and the rest. In mid season 1974, Tarasov, at his own risk, successfully reshuffled his two top lines for five-odd games, moving Kharlamov back to a line with Vikulov and Trunov, followed by another bark from top officials (Firsov was already retired). As a result, a dispirited CSKA lost the league to Krilya Sovietov that season.

In a word, principles of team selection by the Soviet NT coaches were about settling accounts with their foe Tarassov, rather than picking best available players. Ultimately, the vengeful Bobrov/ who had a background drink problem had to pay the ultimate price, being fired as NT coach for drunk behavior at a testimonial dinner celebrating USSR’s win at 1974 WHC. Hoisted by his own petard.
Interesting stuff. Thank you. Wish you would post more often, but I guess we're all busy.

About Maltsev and Vikulov in 1972... well well, I didn't understand that their performances were considered to be that bad. At least Maltsev was one of the few players, who played somewhat better in Moscow. Good that common sense (or whatever) prevailed and Maltsev wasn't dropped from the NT; even though I don't think he ever was given top or 2nd line duties again (except for odd games/tournaments, if, say, Petrov was unable to play, e.g. 1976 WC, also the 1976 CC), he was still occasionally quite a key player - in the 1978 and 1981 WCs, for example. And indeed, Vikulov was never again a really important part of the national team, as he had been in the late 1960s/early 1970s. But it had never popped into my mind that the Summit Series had something to do with that.

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