The annual World Junior Championship tournament has begun and two of the players with ties to the Buffalo Sabres started the tournament with a bang. Buffalo Sabre prospects Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov are both playing in the tournament with Team Russia, as Russia looks to improve on their bronze medal finish from last year’s World Junior’s.
Russia played their first game of the tournament earlier this morning against Norway and soundly defeated them 11-0 to open up the tournament. Grigorenko scored a goal and notched two assists on way to finding his “swagger” back on the ice, while Zadorov scored two goals- one of which was shorthanded.
“We just tried to play the game as if the score was close the whole time or as if we were playing Canada or Sweden.” ~ Mikhail Grigorenko
The Buffalo Sabres need Grigorenko to re-find his confidence while playing in Sweden for Russia at the World Juniors so he can fit in
with the Sabres after the tournament. The World Juniors are the best place for Grigorenko to re-find his game as he looks to lead Russia to a gold medal in his third crack at the tournament. Grigorenko has previously won a silver and a bronze, the only thing left is the gold medal.
Zadorov only backed what all Sabres fans already knew: the kid can play. From hitting players to his nose for offence, Zadorov could be a complete package on the blue line in the future. The kid has skills and confidence which will only help his development into the NHL.
Both players will have the opportunity to simplify their game and focus on winning gold for their countries while having fun playing against other players their age.
Girgorenko, Zadorov and the rest of team Russia will be back in action on Saturday when they take on Switzerland in game two of the 2014 World Juniors.