Wait! Six Russian hockey players will fight in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final! In recent years, our guys have won the silver cup over and over again, but there has not been such a Russian final in the NHL for 20 years. Moreover, in both Dallas and Tampa all Russians play key roles, so the battle will be huge.
Season 1997/1998 – 7 Russians
Detroit: Vyacheslav Fetisov, Dmitry Mironov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Igor Larionov, Sergey Fedorov.
“Washington” : Sergey Gonchar, Andrey Nikolishin.
It was the championship “Detroit” Scotty Bowman with his Russian five, who won the Stanley Cup a year ago, but, unfortunately, without Vladimir Konstantinov. And the club was pretty much feverish during the regular season – what is the famous strike of Sergei Fedorov , who spent most of the season without a contract, and then almost left for Karolina.
But the playoffs came, and Detroit again had no equal. Fedorov became the best sniper in the playoffs, Larionov handed out subtle passes, Fetisov (for him this was the last season in the NHL) was a mentor, Kozlov was the leader in winning goals in the playoffs. Dmitry Mirono was traded from Anaheim at the end of the regular season, but Bowman did not often release him on the ice in the playoffs, and in the final the defender with the most powerful throw did not play a single match at all.
In Washington, the star of the young Sergei Gonchar (in the playoffs he will become the best sniper among defenders) was rising, and Andrey Nikolishin played, who brought shells to Peter Bondra – the legend of the “capital”, whose records were then rewritten by Alexander Ovechkin.
For “Washington”, this was generally the first final in history, and there was no chance at all to oppose the played out “Detroit”. The Red Wings had a blitzkrieg and finished in four games. Fedorov finished off the “capital” in the third game, scoring the winning puck, and made two assists in the fourth match.
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Season 1994/1995 – 6 Russians
Detroit: Sergey Fedorov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Vyacheslav Kozlov.
New Jersey: Sergey Brylin, Valery Zelepukin.
A few months before the creation of the Russian Five, Detroit could already win the Stanley Cup. Just before the playoffs, the “wings” were traded for the legendary Fetisov from “New Jersey”, Fedorov spent his best years in performance, Kozlov became a solid base player (and played the playoffs above all praise), and Konstantinov smeared opponents on the sides.
In the final, Detroit was the clear favorite, but New Jersey misfired. The choke-off defense and the inimitable Martin Brodeur defused the wings’ attack and won the streak dry. The “devils” were played by the universal soldier Brylin , for whom that season was the first in the NHL, and Valery Zelepukin .
Zelepukin earned the fans’ love a year earlier, when he performed well in the playoffs, but that season was unsuccessful for him. He missed a lot of time due to a serious eye injury and played a minor role in the playoffs. He scored the only goal in the first round, and did not score in the final series.
Brylin also scored only one goal, but at the most opportune moment – in the third period of the fourth match of the final, finally burying the hopes of Detroit.
Season 1999/2000 – 6 Russians
New Jersey: Vladimir Malakhov, Sergey Brylin, Alexander Mogilny, Sergey Nemchinov.
Dallas: Sergey Zubov, Roman Lyashenko.
Zubov was an assistant to the Dallas captain and one of the best defenders in the NHL at the time. Lyashenko – a young talented striker who was appreciated in the “stars” for his hard work and defensive qualities.
Dallas were the reigning champions, but in the final they were opposed by New Jersey, who strengthened during the season with Malakhovs and Mogilny .
Sergei Nemchinov , who won the first Russian Stanley Cup in the Rangers in 1994, this time was on opposite sides of the barricades with his former partner Zubov. Brylin is the current record holder among Russian players by the number of NHL championship rings, spent his entire career in the Devils, was not a superstar, but played reliably in defense. It is noteworthy that in the final series it was he who scored the most points among our guys. The rest did not play so brightly – Mogilny scored in the second match (this goal did not help New Jersey), but Nemchinov and Malakhov scored a point per pass.
The streak dragged on for six matches, the last two went into the second and third overtimes, but Dallas failed to defend the title. After Detroit-1998, only Pittsburgh -2017 managed to do this.
Tampa in the final, Kucherov is the top scorer in the playoffs! They were helped by a ricochet from Varlamov’s leg
“Lightning” put the squeeze on “Islanders” in overtime. Six Russians will play in the decisive Stanley Cup series.
Season-2019/2020 – 6 Russians
Tampa Bay: Andrey Vasilevsky, Mikhail Sergachev, Nikita Kucherov.
Dallas: Anton Khudobin, Denis Guryanov, Alexander Radulov.
This series, even before its start, pleases that absolutely all Russians here and now are the leaders of their clubs. Whether it’s young Denis Guryanov , who made a breakthrough this year, or 34-year-old Anton Khudobin, who is the starting goalkeeper for the first time. Or Mikhail Sergachev , who is rapidly reaching the level of a top defender in the NHL, or Nikita Kucherov , who does not need to be introduced.
Never before have the Stanley Cup Final seen a battle between two Russian goalkeepers! Vasilevsky has been playing for Tampa for six years, he quickly ousted Ben Bishop from the box, and last year won the Vezina Trophy. On Khudobin the role of the first issue fell unexpectedly after the same Bishop got injured. And Anton copes brilliantly, in Dallas they are ready to carry him in their arms.
“Bummer from lazy people”. In Russia, Khudobin was not appreciated, and now this guy is in the NHL finals!
Five seasons in the AHL and four minutes for the national team at the World Cup. How Khudobin made it to the Stanley Cup final.
Kucherov is the best scorer in the playoffs (26 points in 19 games!) and the best striker in terms of utility. He also plows for the absent Stephen Stamkos. If Kucherov and Vasilevsky already have experience in the Stanley Cup final (they lost to Chicago in 2015), then Sergachev made it to this stage for the first time, but he certainly cannot be called a timid beginner. Sergachev may not gain as many points as Heiskanen in Dallas, but this does not negate his usefulness and ability to take the game on himself at the right time.
All Dallas Russians play in the final for the first time. Guryanov has already scored a hat-trick in this playoff, and then a winning goal in the decisive match of the West’s final. But a year ago, he only knocked the threshold of the NHL and did not even get into the “stars” in the playoffs. Radulov – Dallas’ main lighter, the third sniper of the team, one of the leaders in the dressing room and on the ice, for whom it is impossible not to root.
These six should put on an exciting, unpredictable show in the finale.