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Penguins Notebook: Russia's Olympic roster puts big smile on Gonchar's face // Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Dave Molinari
Sergei Gonchar, who will be part of the 2006 Russian Olympic team, has played in two previous Games. He took home a silver medal from the first, a bronze from the second, and hopes there is a natural progression at work.
"The only thing missing is a gold one," he said. "So, that's the only thing we'll have on our minds, to get a gold one."
Perhaps, but Gonchar, a Penguins defenseman, is not about to predict that that will happen. He is even reluctant to single out the teams he believes will contend for the championship during the Games in Turin, Italy, in February.
"The Czech Republic was really strong the last couple of years," he said. "They won the world championship last year, and Canada probably is one of the favorites, with all the talent they have. Although they're going to miss Sidney [Crosby, who was left off the roster].
"But, in such a short tournament, it's really hard to predict who's the favorite. Anything can happen."
While Russia's defense corps is lackluster, by world-class standards, its goaltending should be solid and it has some exceptional forwards, such as Alex Kovalev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Ovechkin, Alexei Yashin and Evgeni Malkin.
"We have a lot of offense," Gonchar said. "In my opinion, it's one of our strengths. But, in a short period of time, we all have to play well, because [every] game means so much. And one mistake can end your tournament."
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