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Will Team Russia Crack Under The Pressure?

from Lawrence Martin at the Globe and Mail,

For Russia, Sochi is the ultimate chance for hockey revenge. No better way for them to quash the memory of their seminal defeat in the 1972 Summit Series than to beat Canada in their homeland for Olympic gold.

Building expectations, the Russians have been saying that the hockey prize is far and away what matters most at these Games. We can imagine how their man of steel, President Vladimir Putin, will gloat if they pull it off. It’s not the Cold War again, but the former KGB agent is flexing his muscles the world over, including in the Canadian Arctic.

But watch him shrink, watch those eyes tighten if they lose. The Canadian team can puncture Mr. Putin’s ego in Sochi. That couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

The Russians are making a mistake by putting so much stock in the hockey result. Hockey history has shown that, with the odd exception, they don’t respond well to intense pressure. Rather, they crack.

continued

Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: soch, team+russia

Comments

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Are Canadians really this dumb? First of all no one in Russia cares about 1972 Summit Series anymore. And as much as Putin wants russian hockey team to win, I’m sure one of the most powerful people in the entire world is not going to lose any sleep if they lose.
Lawrence Martin at the Globe and Mail is a dolt

Posted by George0211 on 02/11/14 at 08:18 AM ET

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Posted by George0211 on 02/11/14 at 08:18 AM ET

What article did you even read?

Posted by Garth on 02/11/14 at 08:40 AM ET

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What article did you even read?

Posted by Garth on 02/11/14 at 08:40 AM ET

huh?

Posted by George0211 on 02/11/14 at 08:43 AM ET

detroitredwings's avatar

It all hinges on Datsyuk’s left knee.

Posted by detroitredwings on 02/11/14 at 09:04 AM ET

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The Russians are making a mistake by putting so much stock in the hockey result. Hockey history has shown that, with the odd exception, they don’t respond well to intense pressure. Rather, they crack.

I love Canadian media hypocrits.  This coming from a nation that puts it World Junior team through the meat grinder, then finds despair when they fail. This statement also contains the old familiar racism, insecurity and hate that has become hockey in Canada.

Posted by timbits on 02/11/14 at 09:35 AM ET

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I love Canadian media hypocrits.  This coming from a nation that puts it World Junior team through the meat grinder, then finds despair when they fail. This statement also contains the old familiar racism, insecurity and hate that has become hockey in Canada.

Posted by timbits on 02/11/14 at 09:35 AM ET

Thank you, that’s why I called him a dolt

Posted by George0211 on 02/11/14 at 09:36 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Every time I start to feel a twinge of worry that the American hockey consciousness needs another victory to move forward from the 1980 story, I get reminded that despite having won two of the last three Olympic golds, Canada still dregs up a two-team exhibition that’s now more than 40 years old as their trump card.

Hockey history has shown that, with the odd exception, they don’t respond well to intense pressure. Rather, they crack.

I mean, aggregate score of the Summit Series was 32-31 in favor of the Russians. Canada won fair and square, but that’s hardly called cracking under the pressure.

I guess it wasn’t intense pressure under which Canada cracked in 2006 all the way to a 7th-place finish in defense of their Gold at Salk Lake?

Or when the first Canadian Olympics team to use NHLers (which was the reason for the Canadians to split from the IIHF and necessitate the Summit Series in the first place), came in fourth place in Nagano?

Calling Russian hockey history one of near-constant failures under pressure with the odd exception is ridiculous.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/11/14 at 10:36 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Nationalism makes people say goofy garbage. I can’t wait for the medals to be handed out so we can go back to our international, heterogeneous teams.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 02/11/14 at 11:12 AM ET

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Calling Russian hockey history one of near-constant failures under pressure with the odd exception is ridiculous.

If you read the entire article, you wouldn’t have made that statement.

i.e.
More significantly, there are few signs that they have learned to play to their potential when the chips are down.

Although that story was full of Canadian bluster, it is true: They haven’t learned to play under pressure when they are not winning every game 7-1.  The Russians and former Soviet Union haven’t learned to play when the chips are down, mostly because of their old style to sequester themselves from even their families, clam up, not talk to the media, etc.  The point is, they play scared when challenged.  They play not to lose, and that’s not a winning formula.

They also haven’t learned to play as an underdog the way the Fins, Czechs and Slovaks have.  They haven’t or won’t come to grips that they are no longer a hockey superpower, despite not having been one since the 1992 gold as the Unified Team.

I loved Russian hockey then.  It was the most beautiful, artistic style.  They dominated, and it was awesome.  I still root for the Russians to medal, though less vociferously than I used to. 

If they would embrace the underdog role and play like they have nothing to lose, they would be much better off.  I don’t think they will do that on home ice.  So I don’t see them even earning a bronze.

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/11/14 at 11:18 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I disagree with the characterization that it’s only intense pressure if the team isn’t a big favorite, so either way it’s a bad way to word such a sentiment.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/11/14 at 11:36 AM ET

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If they would embrace the underdog role and play like they have nothing to lose, they would be much better off.  I don’t think they will do that on home ice.  So I don’t see them even earning a bronze.

How exactly should they be considered an underdog? They have their weaknesses, sure, just like every other team. Only really complete team is Canada, every one else is an underdog compared to them.
The problem with Russian hockey, I think, is that they have been playing without any pride, but I think that is changing with the generation of players like Ovechkin and Malkin, and part of the problem with that is coaching. I remember in 2002 olympics in quarterfinals, no one gave Russia a chance against the Czechs, but they won 1-0, and it was one of the best games Russian team played in a long time. After the Olympics, I believe it was Fedorov who said what was different was Fetisov who was coaching the team sparked something in them, when he said, no one considers russia a hockey country anymore.
Every team throughout history has cracked under pressure at some point.
I think it is not very accurate to say they have not learned to play to their potential. If that were true, Russian/Soviet teams would not have the record they do

Posted by George0211 on 02/11/14 at 11:36 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

I mean, aggregate score of the Summit Series was 32-31 in favor of the Russians. Canada won fair and square, but that’s hardly called cracking under the pressure.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/11/14 at 10:36 AM ET

Canada won fair and square by attacking Russia’s best player and breaking his ankle?

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 02/11/14 at 11:43 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Canada won fair and square by attacking Russia’s best player and breaking his ankle?

That’s such a Canadian-centric way of saying that, Mandingo.  His ankle cracked under the pressure.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/11/14 at 12:18 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

That’s such a Canadian-centric way of saying that, Mandingo.  His ankle cracked under the pressure.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/11/14 at 12:18 PM ET

Of course. That’s what I meant.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 02/11/14 at 12:23 PM ET

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Canada won fair and square, but that’s hardly called cracking under the pressure.

First off, I like that you brought up the aggregate score, as if that’s relevant in a series where one team won more games than the other.

It’s slightly, just ever so slightly, possible that the comment was refering to the fact that the Russians had three wins, one loss an a tie in the first five games and the lost three straight.

I mean I get it, Canada is the worst, they’re he only people who have blustery idiots in the media and we’re all moustache-twirling villains when it comes to talking about the poor “little guys” like Russia and the *#$%@& United States of America, but how about we don’t pretend that it’s unreasonable to describe a team losing three straight after being up 3-1 as cracking.

Any team that was up 3-1 in the the Stanley Cup Finals or the NBA Championship or the World Series and went on to drop the last three games would be described as cracking.  Hell, actually no.  Only people who were being very diplomatic would describe that as cracking.  Most would call it downright choking.

Posted by Garth on 02/11/14 at 01:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by Garth on 02/11/14 at 01:07 PM ET

boy golly it must be hard at the top, huh?

I mean I get it, Canada is the worst, they’re he only people who have blustery idiots in the media

You forgot the comments sections, apparently.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/11/14 at 01:49 PM ET

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How exactly should they be considered an underdog? ... Only really complete team is Canada, every one else is an underdog compared to them.

Umm, that’s the my point.  Russia is not a hockey superpower anymore.  It is an underdog to Canada.  It is an underdog to Sweden.  Vegas would probably put it at a 7-5 dog to the U.S. if the two teams met on neutral ice.  It is only slightly better than Finland at full strength (which Finland is obviously not right now).  Even the Czechs and Slovaks can beat Russia in a winner-take-all game.  If Hiller gets hot, the Swiss might knock them out.

That’s why Russia is an underdog.

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/11/14 at 02:12 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Any team that was up 3-1 in the the Stanley Cup Finals or the NBA Championship or the World Series and went on to drop the last three games would be described as cracking.  Hell, actually no.  Only people who were being very diplomatic would describe that as cracking.  Most would call it downright choking.

Posted by Garth on 02/11/14 at 01:07 PM ET

The Russians played the last 3 games either without their best player (or in a very limited capacity). The Canadians broke his ankle because he was skating circles around them.

That this is a point of pride for a lot of Canadians is shameful. It was a tainted victory.

Canada has accomplished great things in international hockey and are rightly revered, but the Summit Series is (or should be) a national embarrassment.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 02/11/14 at 02:16 PM ET

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Umm, that’s the my point.  Russia is not a hockey superpower anymore.  It is an underdog to Canada.  It is an underdog to Sweden.  Vegas would probably put it at a 7-5 dog to the U.S. if the two teams met on neutral ice.  It is only slightly better than Finland at full strength (which Finland is obviously not right now).  Even the Czechs and Slovaks can beat Russia in a winner-take-all game.  If Hiller gets hot, the Swiss might knock them out.

That’s why Russia is an underdog.

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/11/14 at 02:12 PM ET

And what exactly are you basing that on?
You seriously think, that Russian hockey team is one of the worst in this tournament?
If Hiller gets hot, Swiss can knock any team out. That arguments goes for every goalie and every team.

Posted by George0211 on 02/11/14 at 02:16 PM ET

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And what exactly are you basing that on? ...

That arguments goes for every goalie and every team.

Thanks for emphasizing the point I made for a 2nd time.  Your reading comprehension skills are excellent!

Let me put it in a way even you might be able to understand.  On paper, the rankings are:

1. Canada
2. Sweden
3. Russia/U.S. (pick ‘em game)
5. Finland
6. Czech
7. Slovaks
6. Swiss

Any of those teams can beat any of those other teams in a 1-game format, but Russia is an underdog to the favorite, Canada, and an underdog to Sweden—even on home ice.  The Russians need to embrace the fact that they are not a superpower and play the underdog card in this and every other tournament.  Get it?

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/11/14 at 02:24 PM ET

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Any of those teams can beat any of those other teams in a 1-game format, but Russia is an underdog to the favorite, Canada, and an underdog to Sweden—even on home ice.  The Russians need to embrace the fact that they are not a superpower and play the underdog card in this and every other tournament.  Get it?

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/11/14 at 02:24 PM ET

And you’ve completely missed my point, which is that this is all a matter of opinion.
In YOU opinion Sweden is better than Russia, but in MY opinion they are not. And in SOMEONE ELSE’s opinion, somewhere out there, I’m sure Canada is an underdog to Russia.
And what does it matter if Russins think they are an underdog or not. They have their beliefs that can and should win this tournament. I don’t see anything wrong with it. This is the same attitude, I am sure Canadians approach every hockey tourney.
Russians, IMO started playing a more reckless style of hockey ever since Tikhonov stopped being their coach and I think that contributed to a lot of their loses and failures.

Posted by George0211 on 02/11/14 at 04:44 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The Russians need to embrace the fact that they are not a superpower and play the underdog card in this and every other tournament.  Get it?

Statistically speaking, underdogs lose a lot more than they win. Russia should play like a winner.  Those teams tend to win more.

My logic is flawless.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/11/14 at 04:58 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Anybody but Canada. Why? Crosby,Toews, and Weber. I assume Toews is Canadian whiner like Crosby.

Posted by bigfrog on 02/11/14 at 06:07 PM ET

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