Viktor Shuvalov

Playing in the shadows of Vsevolod Bobrov and Alexei Guryshev, center Viktor Shuvalov is a forgotten early great of Soviet hockey.

The 5-time Soviet all star and USSR league champion often played with Bobrov and Evgeny Babich. Shuvalov, who scored 222 goals in 150 Russian league games, was described as "equally outstanding" as his more famous linemates. Shuvalov was "the driving force behind Bobrov's troika."

Internationally he added 40 goals in 51 contests, winning Olympic gold in 1956 and world championship gold in 1954. He also won a silver in the 1955 Worlds.

Shuvalov sacrificed his own offensive desires to allow his less-than-defensive-conscious linemates to exploit napping defenses. Shuvalov, like all classic Russian centermen, always came back deep in the defensive zone, helping out the dmen. He then would spring his wingmen with breakout passes, trailing behind them almost like a defenseman jumping into the rush nowadays. He would often stay high for defensive purposes, but at other times he would park himself in the slot.

Being the line's defensive conscious meant that he was underrated not only historians but by opponents at the time. They would focus primarily on Bobrov and also Babich, often leaving the trailing Shuvalov unguarded. This allowed Babich to score often.

Shuvalov, one of the earliest Soviet proponents of the slap shot, was a great athlete. He actually played 2 years of soccer at the highest Russian level.

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