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World Junior Player Report: Matthew Boldy and Marat Khusnutdinov

The third game of the 2021 World Juniors saw team Russia edge past the USA in a close game, after a strong second period. The game included two of the Minnesota Wilds’ biggest prospects in Matthew Boldy and Marat Khusnutdinov, who both played plenty of minutes of the game to showcase their skillset. While the Russian forward was victorious in Edmonton, it was Boldy who was by far the most impressive in the opening match of the 2021 World Juniors.

Marat Khusnutdinov

The fast winger, who was selected 37th overall in the 2020 draft by Minnesota, had a rough game against the USA, where he never quite seemed to showcase his great speed and offensive flair that I think a lot of people were expecting of him. Playing with Vasili Podkolzin, a talented winger out of Moskva, Russia, and Rodion Amirov, and his soft hands on the first line, Khusnutdinov had plenty of ice time with great linemates as well, but that line never really got going. This meant that most of Khusnutdinov"s shifts were in the more hardworking areas at the boards.

Khusnutdinov"s effort was good and he had some good defensive moments where he was able to backcheck well and force a bad pass from the USA, but he also lost far too many battles at the board. Most noticeably in the end, as team USA was mounting a comeback, where he was directly involved in both the goals scored in the third period, as well as taking an offensive tripping minor late in the third. The first goal in the third period came when Khusnutdinov was unable to cover the man in front of outstanding goaltending prospect Yaroslav Askarov, leading to the netminder being unable to recover for a rebound, and late when he lost a battle to Boldy at the board as the USA was playing with six skaters which led to Trevor Zegras using his high hockey IQ to score shortly after.

This is an area that Khusnutdinov needs to improve on, alongside finding his offensive flair alongside his linemates. A positive is that he did manage to get an assist late when he managed to stop a rush from the US and get the puck out of the zone. The puck then ended up going the other way and in an empty net, they could seal the game with a 5-3 scoreline. A small bright spot on a more forgettable personal night for the young Russian.

Matthew Boldy

One of the best players for Team USA tonight Boldy was dominant on almost every shift and won every battle at the boards and behind the net. He was a constant danger to Russia, and the only negative from his game was that his shooting wasn’t the best tonight where he had a few great scoring chances but couldn’t quite find the handle on the puck.

He was tenacious and was constantly in Askarov"s face, with fantastic net-front presence and strength that Russia simply had trouble matching. Alongside his linemates talented winger Cole Caufield and Matthew Beniers, they were by far the best line for the Americans until Caufield was moved to the first line instead of left-winger Arthur Kaliyev. This did deservingly bring him two assists throughout the game. The first when he won the puck behind the net to keep possession in the Russian zone, before getting in front of a bullet from University of Michigan prospect defenseman Cam York, screening and disturbing Askarov in the net. For a moment it did look like he tipped it but he just missed it, but his presence was a major part of the goal that tied the game at one goal apiece.

Boldy"s second assist came much later in the game when the US was chasing a comeback late in the game. Similar to his first assist he won the puck behind the net and continued the cycle to the players at the point. When Zegras unless a great shot, Askarov had no view of it since Boldy was right on his doorstep with a picture-perfect screen.

Tonight Matthew Boldy showed all of his potential and the only slight worry is his shooting and goalscoring abilities. Everything else was next to perfect from the 2019 first-rounder. Khusnutdinov showcased his speed and offensive flair for Russia in a five to three win.

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