MINSK, May 19. /ITAR-TASS/. NHL Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin arrived on Monday in the Belarusian capital of Minsk joining the Russian national team for the remainder of the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship, which runs on May 9-25.
The Russian hockey squad is on the winning spree at the current World Championship in Belarus having won all six games it played so far with the rate of scored and missed goals standing at 29-6. Malkin seized the chance of joining the national team after his Pittsburgh Penguins club was knocked out of NHL playoffs by New York Rangers.
“I was pleased when (Russian) Head Coach Oleg Znarok expressed interest in me,” Malkin said following his first training session with the team on Monday. “I am glad that I was invited to the team. It is always a pleasure to reunite with the team.”
“The team well accepted me and I like the atmosphere. I have arrived not to simply show up, but to help. I believe that I will be of help for the team,” said Malkin, who garnered 23 goals and 49 assists during the NHL’s 60-games regular season.
Malkin’s arrival came in the wake of Russian national team captain Alexander Ovechkin’s injury, which the NHL Washington Capitals star sustained during Sunday’s match against Germany and which led him to hospitalization.
This is the sixth world championship for 27-year-old Malkin. He won one world champion’s title with Russia in 2012, when he was also named the best player of that tournament. At the world championships he also won silver in 2010 and bronze in 2005 and 2007 playing for the national team.
Malkin begins this year’s championship with the match against hosts Belarus on Tuesday.
Russian fans expect their national squad to put on a new game at this championship following the team’s disappointing performance at last year’s World Championship, when it was knocked out from the quarterfinals after being creamed 3-8 by the United States. Another disappointing performance followed at this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, where the Russian squad failed once more to clear the quarterfinals stage losing on its home ice 1-3 to Finland.
Russia’s most recent titles of world champions were conquered in 2008, 2009 and 2012. The 2008 title was a real treat for Russian hockey fans as it came to the team after a 15-year drought. That title Russia snatched from Canada, which was hosting the World Championship for the first time in its history, with 5-4 victory in overtime.