In the aftermath of Russia's 3-1 loss in men's hockey to Finland during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a number of Russian journalists criticized coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov for keeping star forwards Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin together on the same line. Despite the frustration of Team Russia's crushing disappointment at its home Olympics, Malkin says that there is no issue between him and Ovechkin.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports' Puck Daddy after the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-2 victory over Ovechkin's Washington Capitals, Malkin denied rumors of a "rift" between the two Russian stars:
There has not been a day when thoughts about the Olympics didn’t enter my head, when I wouldn’t remember it. I don’t think anyone is taking it harder than the players. Yes, we didn’t win. And there was a lot of negativity after the Olympics that Ovechkin and I had a rift, that we had one with the coach. This was not the case. It doesn’t feel good to read that. Everyone is upset.
Malkin did, however, admit that he and Ovechkin did not have much chemistry during the Sochi Games and said a line change probably would have been a smart decision.
We don’t have chemistry. We should have been probably moved [to different lines]. Why talk about it now? Of course we didn’t show the type of a game we are capable of. Certain changes to the lines should have been made probably. But yes, it seems there is no chemistry between us.Malkin's Penguins defeated Ovechkin's Capitals on Monday night in Washington, and the two teams will play again Tuesday in Pittsburgh. With 90 points, the Penguins currently sit on top of the Eastern Conference, while the Capitals are one point behind Columbus for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.