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Favored Russians ooze confidence, feel like ‘red machine’

Russia vs United States: Quarterfinal - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 02: Andrei Altybarmakyan #16 of Russia(right) celebrates his game tying goal with Alexander Shepelev #4 and Mikhail Maltsev #13 during the third period of play in the Quarterfinal IIHF World Junior Championship game at the KeyBank Center on January 2, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images)

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Russians are here, and they look every bit like the gold-medal favorites everyone thinks they are.

They’re stocked with NHL talent from Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Slava Voynov to Kontinental Hockey League star Nikita Gusev and are fresh off an 8-1 drubbing of host South Korea in exhibition play. Asked to describe the Russian team, Nikita Nesterov said it is a “red machine.” Masked mystery man Ryan Zapolski is best hope for US medal

“We’ll just play well and play Russian hockey,” Nesterov said Sunday as the Russians arrived at Gangneung Hockey Centre. “A lot of guys played (in the) NHL. It’s a good team, younger team. We’ll see what’s going on here.” What you missed in PyeongChang last night: Red Gerard wins the first gold medal for Team USA

What’s expected to go on is for the Russian team in the nondescript “Olympic Athletes from Russia” red and white uniforms to roll over its competition to win the men’s hockey tournament. No other country has the high-end skill that Russia boasts, which has made it the team to beat.

Read the rest of the story and watch highlights from around PyeongChang