Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: team russia
Canada's last gold came on home ice in Ottawa in 2009, and the team is hoping to repeat that success in Toronto this year. Zach Fucale will get the start in goal for Canada.
"I really want them to just have fun and enjoy it," said Canadian captain Curtis Lazar. "We've worked hard to get to this point. The fans at the ACC have been awesome and I really want them to just get caught in the moment, kind of take a step back and soak it all in, because it's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity for us.
"I feel like if we go out there and we play the right way, the way we can, we'll be able to get the job done."...
The Russians feel their tough road to the gold medal game could be an advantage as they take another unbeaten team – and a team yet to trail - in Canada.
"We had a couple of pretty hard games against the U.S. and Sweden," forward Ivan Barbashyov said after Russia's Sunday win. "We know how to play, and we'll be playing the same way we played today and two days ago."
The game is on NHL Network US and TSN1, TSN4, TSN5 and TSN GO. Pregame at 7:30pm ET, puck drops just after 8:00pm.
from Alan Muir of Sports Illustrrated,
• If the Russians have proved anything in this tournament it's their upsetting tendency to unravel at the slightest provocation. They barely held it together against a lightly talented Danish team, lost their composure after having a goal disallowed against Sweden, and were sabotaged by a slow start—just three first-period shots!—in a must-win New Year's Eve game against the Czechs. Much has been made of the coaching effort by Valeri Bragin, but this feels more like a personnel issue. The Russians are good, but they lack the swagger that's defined their recent teams. This group doesn't have a game breaker like Evgeny Kuznetsov or Mikhail Grigorenko who could exploit the slightest breakdowns by their opponents and take control of a contest, and that's removed Russia's margin for error. Get a goal on them early and this could become a blowout.
• Jack Eichel may be the poster boy for Team USA but I can't take my eyes off Auston Matthews, a player who seems to get a bit better with each passing game. The early favorite to go first in the 2016 NHL Draft has made a strong impression at the tournament, playing a solid 200-foot game and showing tremendous poise despite just having turned 17. He doesn't have the elite upside of Eichel or Connor McDavid but he plays a heavy game that will translate easily to the pros. Expect him to assert himself physically into this game early and be a handful even against Russia's big-bodied defense.
more plus other hockey topics...
Watch the stream below, puck drops just after 1:00pm ET...
from Lucas Aykroyd of IIHF.com,
Finland put up a defensive wall and scored in all three periods. The Czechs simply had no answer.
Now, the Russians -- the only unbeaten team at this World Championship -- should be out for revenge after the ever-tenacious Finns stunningly eliminated them with a 3-1 Olympic quarter-final victory in Sochi in February.
The final also promises to be a great goaltending duel between Rinne, a two-time nominee for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best netminder, and Russian starter Sergei Bobrovski, who won the Vezina last season.
It will be the first time Russia and Finland have ever met in a World Championship gold medal game since the IIHF introduced the playoff system in 1992.
The gold medal game will be broadcast on Sunday at 2:00pm ET on NBCSN and TSN.
added 4:24pm, View a gif of the injury below...
added 4:33pm, below, video added...
"I was almost disgusted by their performance when they played Finland. I look at the Finnish team and they're missing key players. They don't have any of their big stars and now [Rask] is hurt and that Russian team is stacked with great players and to come out and have that performance they had in the quarterfinals. It was an absolutely heartless performance.
"It was very disappointing and I don't think it's very good for hockey either to have them out of their home tournament. You wonder when you have Putin in the stands on home ice and you can't get heart out of these guys? What's going to bring it out? I don't know."
-Mats Sundin on Team Russia's play at the Sochi Olympics. More from Sundin at TSN.
This was their golden moment with true superstars on their team to win. Ovechkin will never get another opportunity in his lifetime to write his Olympic legacy on home ice. For Pavel Datsyuk this may ne his last Olympics altogether. By the time the 2018 games roll around, Ovechkin will be 32, Malkin will be 31, Kovalchuk will be 34, and Pavel Datsyuk will be 39.
The time was now. In Sochi. That’s why there is no reaction. From anyone. And there won’t be for days or even weeks. It hurts so much that it numbs.
The Olympic flame is still burning over Sochi. But it was put out in the hearts of all Russian fans.
-Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo where you can read more about Team Russia.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
• The failure of the KHL and NHL players on the roster to blend into a cohesive team was clear and apparent. There were rumors in the past few days of tension in the Russian camp, and at the heart of it was the KHL-NHL issue. Why in the world was Alexander Popov playing on the top line with Ovechkin and Malkin the past two games? Why was KHL defenseman Evgeni Medvedev among the leaders in ice time on the team, playing more than NHLers such as Fedor Tyutin and Alexei Emelin?
Why? Because the KHL and Russian hockey hoped to use the world's biggest hockey games as a propaganda tool for the Russian professional league that vies to rival the NHL. Well, that was a complete and utter disaster.
• Which leads you to also finger the coach, known as "Coach Bil." His bizarre decisions, including having Malkin on a second-unit power play, which featured the likes of Nikolai Kulemin, well, that just made no sense.
more including the coach calling out Ovechkin...
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Russia’s high-end players rank with the best in the world, but the talent falls on the bottom end of the roster and when players such as Ovechkin couldn’t find their offensive stride in the tournament, there really wasn’t anybody there to pick them up.
Kovalchuk had the first-period goal for the Russian, but Juhamatti Aaltonen and the ageless Teemu Selanne erased that lead. Selanne had become the oldest player to score a goal in Olympic history five days ago, and he tweaked that record with what turned out to be the winning goal.
It isn’t clear what the long-term implications for Russian hockey of this setback will be. If they had played well up until this point and just had an off night, it might be one thing. But they were listless and unfocused throughout and when they had opportunities, Rask was there with the answers.
“It’s hard to win if you do not score,” said Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk, who described Rask as a “good goalie” but said the Russians didn’t do enough to get in his face.
“But we make it easy. We make not enough traffic in front of him, and not shoot a lot.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday chimed in on the national debate surrounding his country's disallowed goal against the United States in the Sochi Olympic hockey tournament, saying it was a mistake by the referee.
With five minutes to go before the final buzzer Sunday at the Bolshoy Ice Dome and the score at 2-2, Russian defenseman Fedor Tyutin thumped a slapshot from near the boards that flew into the net.
However, the officials ruled it out because the goal had been moved off its moorings by around one centimeter in a previous attack....
"Even referees sometimes makes mistakes, here I wouldn't tar anybody with any brush, but I thought that we would win by a big margin," Putin said.
"You and I shouldn't forget that sport isn't only about skill but also about the athletes' courage, and even a good slice of luck."
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Much was expected of Ovechkin here, of course, as the host nation looks to end the gold-medal drought that dates back to Albertville in 1992.
And much like Canada and Crosby rallied from a slow start in Vancouver, there is still time, starting with Tuesday's qualification round game against Norway.
"He has to understand he could be a national hero and it could also be a national shame," legendary Russian defenceman Slava Fetisov said prior to the opening ceremony. "That is the pressure of home ice in the hockey tournament.
"It is the price every superstar has to pay and that is what separates the winners from the losers. If you can handle the pressure and put your priorities in the right direction, you can be a winner."
from Mike Brophy of CBC,
None of Russia’s big guns – Alexander Ovechkin, Engeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk – produced any big games. Malkin had a goal and three points, Ovechkin a goal and two points and Kovalchuk just one goal in the three games.
Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaltetinov said he is even considering playing Ovechkin on defence in an effort to get him going.
“I will think about it,” Bilyaltetinov said. “There is no doubt that we want to score more goals because we have high-quality players who can play in different positions. We might look into a change or two, but there will not be any major changes.”
a bit more on Russia and a look and basically a recap of Sweden, USA and Canada in the preliminary round...
from Bill Plaschke of the LA Times,
When American T.J. Oshie scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the U.S. a 3-2 victory over Russia in a first-round Olympic hockey game Saturday night, it was a devastating ending for the several dozen fans crowding into the So Leone sports bar in downtown Sochi.
But the group of mostly middle-aged men did not immediately leave. They picked their chins out of their chests, stood slowly from their couches and chairs, and lined up in front of the two Americans sitting meekly in the middle of the room.
Then, one by one, they shook our hands.
Far from the carefully painted faces and organized cheers at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the Russian sporting soul was on display in a dark, wood-lined room with two giant televisions, one small dart board, and a lifetime of angst.
The So Leone sports bar was 35 minutes up the Black Sea coast from the game between Russia and the U.S., but it pounded with a cramped and honest pulse of a nation on edge.
"This is our sport, this is our life," said patron Denis Puzyrez, standing at the bar in a rumpled T-shirt and hopeful stare. "Even if we fail in everything else in Olympics, if we win hockey, we win the Olympics."
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
"That may live in infamy, what happened there," Oshie's St. Louis Blues teammate David Backes said. "That was quite a display on both ends. Even a couple of the ones that Osh doesn't score on, [Sergei] Bobrovsky made some amazing saves on. It was great hockey on display, and we'll take the result."
One of the factors that led to Oshie's inclusion on this U.S. team was the fact he is one of the NHL's top shootout specialists. That selection paid huge dividends Saturday.
"It felt like he was going to score every time he went over the boards," Bylsma said.
But this game was so much more than its ending, as dramatic as it was, with almost every person in the Bolshoy Ice Dome -- from fans to President Vladimir Putin to the players on their respective benches -- on his or her feet anticipating the final result.
Someone likened this electric late-afternoon tilt between two historic rivals to a chess match.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Let's catch our breath after that memorable game! Holy mackerel. Won't soon forget witnessing that game at Bolshoy Ice Dome, a dramatic Team USA victory over host Russia thanks to T.J. Oshie's miracle work in the shootout. Five things from Saturday's game:
1. Terrific T.J.
I'm not a big shootout guy and I certainly hope the gold-medal game isn't decided in that fashion, but for a preliminary-round game, where nobody is going home, Saturday's skills contest was terrific drama, with the St. Louis Blues' Oshie scoring on four of six shootout attempts. (IIHF rules allow for the same player to be used repeatedly once you're in extra attempts.)...
5. But not for three
A great win but not three points for Team USA, who get awarded only two under IIHF rules for an extra-time victory. It's worth noting because it means if other countries such as Canada or Sweden or Finland go a perfect 3-0-0 with three regulation victories, they would get ranked ahead of Team USA with nine points in the standings....
A few notes ahead of this morning's U.S.-Russia game (7:30 AM EST, CBC/NBCSN):
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
Do you believe in debacles?
You did Thursday if you were at the Bolshoy Ice Palace. What began as a rousing return home for the Russian men’s hockey team did not turn into a rout, not right away, anyway. Before the Russians broke open a 5-2 victory in the third period of their first prelim game, they struggled through an uh-oh, one-goal stick-squeezer.
And they did it against Slovenia, a small country with one NHL player making its Olympic debut.
“Tension,” said Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk. “Warning.”
There is a boom-or-bust quality about the Russians. They are capable of skilled hockey and sloppy hockey. The pressure of playing at home could bring out their best or crush them into disappointment. We saw hints of both in the same game, and if that can happen against Slovenia, what about, say, the United States on Saturday?
from Ilya Zubko at Russia Beyond The Headlines,
Forty-nine percent of Russia’s population will tune into the hockey during the Olympic Games in Sochi. In terms of popularity, the only other winter sport to come anywhere close is the biathlon (43 percent). A medal in the hockey will certainly outweigh any other for Russia....
There is also a distinct lack of histrionics in the statements made by the players: “Let people think we’re the fourth-best team — that takes the pressure off. We’re quietly concentrating on our own game... Yes, on paper the U.S. looks stronger than Russia, but paper can be torn up. I believe that we will stand our ground against the Americans and Canadians. We have a strong team, the guys are more experienced now,” reasoned Yevgeny Malkin in an interview with RIA Novosti.
His colleague Alexander Ovechkin agrees that there is no need to feel daunted by the names on the Canadian, U.S., and Swedish team sheets.
“What’s to be afraid of? Names? On the ice is where it matters. I think everything will be just fine,” Ovechkin told Rossiyskaya Gazeta. “We have a combat-ready outfit. The most important thing is to play as a team. The goal is first place. We will aim for that. It will be hard, but we’ll keep moving towards the target.”
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.
via Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Star center Pavel Datsyuk practiced for the first time Tuesday with Russia and proclaimed himself fit to start the tournament.
"Excellent," the Detroit Red Wings star center told reporters when asked how he was feeling after missing Monday's opening practice.
Then asked on his injury which kept him out about a month with Detroit, he said: "What injury?"...
"Yes. I'll play in the first game," said Datsyuk, who skated Tuesday between Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk.
It's clear there's no way Datsyuk would miss a chance to play for Russia in a home Olympics, saying he's been preparing for it "all of my life."
"It's a good feeling," added Datsyuk. "Now, to come back and play in a home Olympics in front of your fans. It's an unbelievable feeling."
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
He is a ubiquitous presence here, his smiling, gap-toothed grin plastered all over everything, from Coca-Cola cans to luggage tags to billboards all over town.
These may turn out to be Alexander Ovechkin’s Olympics, if the masses and/or the corporate sponsors have a say. Ovechkin was greeted as a conquering hero Monday, when the full Russian team – NHLers joining their KHL brethren – arrived for practice at the Bolshoi Ice Palace in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games men’s hockey tournament.
Ovechkin was greeted by fans at the airport, mobbed by volunteers in the athletes village and surrounded by reporters in the mixed zone. Other Russian players may be more integral to the final outcome – Pavel Datsyuk is the glue up front, either Sergei Bobrovsky or Semyon Varlamov will have to provide a better brand of goaltending than what the team got four years ago – but Ovechkin is the player who captivates the audiences. He is a brand unto himself, his personality larger than life.
One could convincingly argue no single individual had a greater impact on NHL participation in these Olympics than Ovechkin.
Numerous tweets this morning said Pavel Datsyuk did not practice with Team Russia this morning although he was on the ice for a team picture.
Some are suggesting Datsyuk may miss the first game against Slovenia on Thursday, 7:30am ET, but Vladislav Tretiak spoke with Datsyuk..
“I asked him about his health and he told me everything is fine...
added 11:12am, Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News talked with Ken Holland regarding Datsyuk. He tweeted...
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Toronto Star,
When nine national-team players from the KHL landed in Sochi, they were greeted with more cameras than they ever expected. It was so hectic that their bus was surrounded and couldn’t move.
“On one hand, it’s fantastic. But on the other, so much attention,” goaltender Alexander Eremenko said. “When we trained in Kazan, the bleachers were empty. There were no journalists at all and now there is so much attention. We still can’t get used to it.”
Upon landing in Sochi, Russia’s 16 NHL players will step into that same pressure-cooker created by hosting the Olympics on home ice in Sochi with the eyes of a nation and President Vladimir Putin watching so closely.
“It’s my fourth Olympics and each time when we arrive people expect a lot from us and if God helps us, everything will turn out this time,” former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk said. “It’s great pressure. We’ve seen how much Sochi changed from 2007, when we won the (right to hold the) Olympics.”
from Lucas Aykroyd of IIHF.com,
The world is waiting to see how Ovechkin will carry himself starting on February 13, when Russia opens its quest for Olympic gold against Slovenia. It’s a prize Russia hasn’t claimed since 1992.
Ovechkin is the greatest NHL goal-scorer of the new millennium, and among modern-era NHLers, only Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux boast better goals-per-game averages at 76.2 and 75.4 respectively.
Likely bound for his fourth Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top marksman, he is also a three-time winner of both MVP trophies, the media-voted Hart and the player-voted Ted Lindsay (formerly Lester Pearson). If Ovechkin retired today, he would still be a surefire inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
But right now, the focus is on the Olympics.
And Ovechkin, despite faithfully and admirably suiting up for Russia in IIHF competition at least once every year since 2002 (with the exception of 2009), has never played quite as well at either the Olympics or World Championships as he has at his NHL best. Neither his laser shot nor his offensive-zone physicality has been quite as effective.
from Slava Malamud at IIHF.com,
What do you call excitement sans optimism? Let’s call it anxiety. And pressure. An enormous pressure to deliver the goods to a gold-starved, hockey-mad nation who will consider the Games a failure otherwise.
“I can tell you for sure that the Olympics aren’t at all about fun,” says Yevgeni Malkin, also known as one of the best players on the planet. “In Turin, even though I knew that I was only 19 and wouldn’t get a huge amount of ice time, I couldn’t get any sleep the first night in the Olympic Village. I just lay on my bed and stared at the ceiling, thinking about how I would play. I don’t know how it will be in Sochi but there will certainly be plenty of stress, considering we are playing at home.”
Pavel Datsyuk, whose hands can be officially certified as magic, and who will be playing in his fourth Olympics, is even blunter.
“The pressure is enormous and it’s growing every day,” says Datsyuk, dropping his usual semi-serious manner. “Everyone is expecting only one thing from us. And we won’t have the right to make an error.”
Stress is what the whole country will be feeling once the puck is dropped in Sochi. But, to be sure, there are some things to be both excited and optimistic about, if you are a Russian fan.
Russia has announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and former New Jersey Devils sniper Ilya Kovalchuk highlight the 25 names unveiled by the host nation.
The complete Russian roster is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov, Alexander Yeryomenko.
Defenders: Anton Belov, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Evgeny Medvedev, Nikita Nikitin, Ilya Nikulin, Fedor Tyutin, Slava Voynov.
Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Pavel Datsyuk, Denis Kokarev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Sergei Soin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tereshenko, Viktor Tikhonov.
from the CP at NHL.com,
Mikhail Grigorenko and Eduard Gimatov scored in the first period as Russia sent Canada home without a medal at the world junior championship for a second year in a row with a 2-1 victory in the bronze-medal game on Sunday.
Josh Morrissey made a mostly unemotional game interesting when he beat Andrei Vasilevski 7:10 into the third period, but Canada could not get the equalizer despite pulling goalie Zach Fucale in the final minute.
Canada, which lost to host Russia 6-5 in the bronze-medal game a year ago in Ufa, had not missed the medals in consecutive years since a three-year drought from 1979 to 1981.
Their hopes for a first gold medal in five years were dashed by a 5-1 loss to Finland in the semifinals on Saturday. The Russians were coming off a 2-1 semifinal defeat to host Sweden.
It was the second-youngest Canadian squad ever at the world juniors, and 11 players are eligible to return for the 2015 tournament in Montreal and Toronto.
added 1:55pm, Video highlights added below...
Sweden moves on to face the winner of Canada/Finland which starts now on NHL Network US and TSN,
No report yet on any suspensions coming from the fight at the end of the game.
from the CP at TSN,
Russia beat the United States 5-3 in the world junior hockey quarter-finals Thursday, rallying to take lead on Nakita Zadorov's two power-play goals.
Zadorov scored on 5-on-3 advantages in a 1:01 span in the second period to give Russia a 4-3 lead. The 6-foot-4 defenceman plays for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League.
Pavel Buchnevich also scored twice for Russia, Mikhail Grigorenko added a goal, and Andrei Vasilevski made 30 saves.
Puck drops just after 6:00am ET in this quarterfinal matchup.
from Andrey Kuznetsov of Sport Express (Google translate),
- Now is potentially the first Olympic goalkeeper country will have time to forget everything and tidy nerves.
- Yes, Semen can safely prepare for February 2014. Plus his career in the NHL nothing more threatening. If the court, God forbid, Varlamov deported from America, a club in the KHL, he would certainly have found. But just imagine what would have been dealt a blow to the psyche, the reputation of the keeper! And now all the roads are still open. I will say more: I am sure that after this story in our hockey will be an extra incentive to show itself in all its glory goalie. At the club, and at the Sochi Olympics. Simon wants to have his name associated with people not all of these courts, and with great victories at the Olympic Games. Still, the fact that all this scandal broke, there is a small fault of the Varlamov. Theoretically, he could understand and early, with whom he was dealing.
- In one of the bard songs like Alexander Galich written about him. "A guy walks with Sema damoyu through the fog. What we say about this lady? Not fountain."
- Let this case will be a lesson for all of our guys. You need to understand people, to know that the girls are divided into good and different. Here is my paternal covenant carefully enemy does not sleep (laughs) . Damsel-then this really behaved as an enemy of the people. How can before the Sochi Olympics this venture? Would understand even if a foreigner started a scandal. But Russian girl Russian guy is trying to take a monastery. It is clear also that she does not care for the hockey team. The whole country for our national team soul hurts. And her self-interest instead of patriotism. I may now harshly criticized. But I see the same right. Indeed, the court in detail all figured out and admitted that the rights Varlamov.
“I’m confident of Semyon’s innocence. I think it is sports and political move, as Varlamov is a candidate for the Russian national team. The main goal is to suspend him from training and games so that he loses practice and misses the Olympics.”
-State Duma deputy Igor Ananskikh, a member of Russia's most outspoken nationalist party, LDPR. A bit more at RSport.
added 8:30am, from Sport-Express (translated),
While the formal procedures were performed premises Varlamov in a prison cell business beginning to grow into the first details. It was learned that the statement made by the Russian goalkeeper girl, composed with him in "intimate relations."Name the possible victim was not called for a while, until the news has not appeared interview her attorney Robert Abrams, who presented the position of his client.
- Varlamov pushed the girl, she hit the wall. She informed me that the defendant was in a state of intoxication. In the end, the girl was taken to the hospital. After the injuries Ivy was hospitalized. Can you imagine that - a professional athlete weighing 95 kg against petite girl growth of 160 cm and a weight of 45 kg?
Abrams also said that her name is Ivy, but did not mention any name, any kind of activity.
- Evie says that Varlamov is not the first time applied to her physical strength. But this time, her patience snapped. She just told me that we put him in jail.
Ivey, according to ITAR-TASS, was model Eugenia Vavrinyuk that Varlamov with a long-standing relationship. Yesterday at 10:40 Moscow time she had left on the social network the following message:
- If a man raised his hand - he will repeat it. And no amount of persuasion and his oath should not dissuade women in it.Part with these men need not feel sorry for them! Giving men the last chance - it means to sign a verdict on repeat. "
via the Guardian,
The Olympic torch for Sochi 2014 is lit on Sunday during a ceremony in ancient Olympia in Greece. The president of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Organising Committee says the event is 'very symbolic for Russia'. The flame is ignited by actress Ino Menegaki and is passed on to Alpine skier Ioannis Antoniou, and then Russian NHL star Alex Ovechkin. The ceremony marks the beginning of the longest torch relay for any Winter Games, including a trip into space.
Below, watch a video from the ceremony, Ovechkin appears in the last 20 seconds or so...
from Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post,
His 10-month-old engagement to Russian tennis star Maria Kirilenko has grounded him and brought purpose to his home life. On the ice, his strong relationship with second-year Capitals Coach Adam Oates , his growing comfort with last year’s switch from left to right wing and the late-spring resurgence that brought him his third Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player have silenced those who only 18 months ago were questioning whether he was still an elite player.
At the same time, however, his career is still at least partly defined by the two glaring omissions on his résumé: an Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup title. The quest for both will dominate the next nine months for Ovechkin, bringing with it a perhaps unprecedented level of pressure and scrutiny — both in Russia, the host country for an Olympics for only the second time in its history, and in Washington, where each maddening flame-out in the playoffs, such as the first-round loss to the New York Rangers in May, both draws further attention to Ovechkin’s lack of a Cup title and lowers the Capitals’ window by another year.
“It’s not something I can relate to, because I don’t think I’ve ever had that much burden or responsibility on my shoulders. But you can definitely see it,” said Capitals goaltender coach Olaf Kolzig, who was the face of the franchise before Ovechkin’s arrival in 2005. “He seems really at peace now. But having said that, there are still expectations to win the Stanley Cup here, and with each year that passes, there’s more and more pressure. And then, you add the Olympics in his home country, and — wow. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.”
That was the hockey world yesterday.
Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk was in his home country of Russia where the highly controversial anti-gay law has been making headlines at least once a day when he was asked about his take on it.
Now from what I have read online no one that is bashing or standing up for Datsyuk was actually there in Russia. I think many, especially the further west in North America we go, were probably still asleep when the question was asked – that didn’t stop anyone from spreading out venom.
At this point every mainstream media, established bloggers and recreational tweeter has expressed their outrage over Datsyuk citing his religion as his answer to a politically driven question.
The issue of contract insurance for NHL players participating in Olympic orientation camps is such a problem in terms of cost that Sport-Express's Andrei Kuznetsov reports that even the Russians aren't skating today or tomorrow in Sochi, but ahead of the Canadian Olympic orientation camp in Calgary from Sunday the 25th to Wednesday the 28th (and the U.S. camp in Arlington, VA on the 26th and 27th), and as you might expect, Hockey Canada's takng some press flak for not being able to scrounge together the funds to be the only hockey federation that managed to get its orientation campers on the ice (the Swedes, Finns, Czechs, Slovaks, Swiss, etc. did not skate).
The Canadian Press's Donna Spencer noted that Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson and 2014 Olympic team GM Steve Yzerman aren't happy about the no-ice situation:
from Risto Pakarinen at IIHF.com,
Craig Smith had five assists, while team captain Paul Stastny scored two and added two assists, and John Gibson made 31 saves for the Americans. The 19-year-old, who led the U.S. to World Junior gold in January, came to Helsinki with only one professional game (for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals) under his belt.
Alexander Ovechkin, who arrived yesterday, scored one and added an assist for Russia. He was selected as best player for his team.
"The team that was more disciplined and better organized won today. We have very good players, but you have to remember that hockey is a team game," Russia's coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said.
"We are where we wanted to be coming into this tournament," said the USA's Stephen Gionta. "We took care of what we had to to, and we got some bounces our way, which is always nice."
read on and watch the highlights below...
The Russia team that won this weekend's Euro Hockey Tour stage is capable of beating the Canadians and triumphing at the Sochi Olympics, Russian Hockey Federation president and legendary Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak said Sunday.
A team packed with NHL stars including Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin blazed through the Channel One Cup beating Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic with an aggregated scoreline of 14-2.
Beating the Canadians? Why not?" Tretiak said. "This team can win. With slick, clinical and stable play, of course it can."
From time to time I like to search YouTube for some classic hockey action.
So I present to you tonight almost 8 minutes of action from the famouse Canada/Russia 1987 WJC.
And below, you can also watch Don Cherry and Michael Farber discuss which side was at fault.
Malkin and Datsyuk will be key players for Team Russia.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Igor Larionov was clearly very interested in the position of Russian GM for the Sochi Olympics because his negotiations with Russian Ice Hockey Federation head Vladislav Tretiak lasted for about six months.
But just last week the Wayne Gretzky of Russian hockey turned down the job. He did so for all of those traditional reasons that can bedevil the country’s hockey program. The way Tretiak had outlined the job, he would have had all the pressure but with no control.
“Before I did the job, I wanted to make sure I had the decisions on the team and the coach but that was not going to be in my control,” said Larionov from his home in Detroit…
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
It’s been billed as the greatest collapse in the history of the WJC and that about sums it up. If there’s been one worse than that, I don’t recall it. It might just be, as the kids like to say these days, the greatest “epic fail” in Canadian international hockey. Ever.
How would you like to throw that on your resume?
All that said, it’s not as if blowing a three-goal lead in the third period never happens in hockey.
In the NHL, since the lockout, it has happened, on average, at least once a season. Eight times in 1,226 regular season games since 2005-06, if you are looking to be precise.
But there weren’t four or five million Canadians watching those collapses, it wasn’t the World Junior Championship and the team falling apart in the third period didn’t have a Maple Leaf on their chest. Well, at least not a red one.
from Robert J. McCarthy of the Buffalo News,
Oh, what a party it must have been for the Russian hockey team after their big win over Canada on Wednesday.
But it apparently caught up with the World Junior Hockey champions. They were kicked off a flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport early this morning after sources said disruptive behavior after a night of celebration posed a safety threat.
“The crew of a flight from Buffalo to Atlanta denied boarding to 30 passengers as a result of unruly behavior,” said Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott. “This was an effort to ensure safe operation of the flight. They will be rebooked on a future flight.”
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
When we win, as in the Vancouver Winter Games (both men and women), we swagger. When we lose, we wallow.
It’s just part of the weird national character that is Canadian.
What happened last night? Well, on the scoresheet sitting before me, Canada takes a 3-0 lead into the third period and somehow loses 5-3. I would say by any imaginable definition that is a “collapse.” It might not be a “national tragedy,” as some have been saying. It might or might not be a “choke,” as all the media was whispering last night but few, if any, dared to say out loud or print. But it as sure as hell a monumental collapse.
So be it. How many times do we have to write “stuff happens” in hockey - it is, truly, as much an essence of the game as pucks and skates and sticks. Stuff happens, though I am tempted here to use the proper hockey word for “stuff.”
My goodness. The biggest collapse in Canadian national junior history. Stunning to watch it all unfold. 5-3 Russia.
-Damien Cox on Twitter.
from Andy Potts of The Moscow News,
Commentators in North America, where the Stanley Cup play-offs are nearing their conclusion, were sniffy about the outcome.
In the Toronto Sun a columnist claimed “nobody out of Europe cares” about a contest which “ranks lower than cricket” and suggested Russia’s excitement over this men-against-boys win might be almost as embarrassing as their Olympic loss.
But, as Bykov put it after the game, a clash between Russia and Canada is never meaningless.
“The Olympics is still incomparable with the World Championships, but in any event this tournament deserves respect and every team wants to win here,” he said.
“Any game between us is an event - if we see Sergei Fedorov fighting on the ice for only the second time in his life, that says it all.”
from Russia Today,
Team Russia has thrashed Canada in the Ice Hockey World Championships quarterfinals to increase their winning streak at world champs to 26 consecutive victories.
Evgeny Malkin made a brace, while Pavel Datsyuk, Maksim Afinogenov and Sergey Fedorov each added a goal for the Russians, who ultimately beat Canada 5-2. Canada trailed 4-0 in the third period but good indivudual efforts by John Tavares and Matt Duchene sugared coat for Canada.
Going into the game captain of the Russian team Ilya Kovalchuk stressed that win over Canada would be “a matter of principle” for the Russian players.
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
...At the world championships, currently being held in Germany, Ovechkin is back to being silent. Apparently, the Russian paparazzi took videos of some players smoking cigarettes. And in response, Ovechkin and the rest of the team has decided the boycott all Russian reporters.
Even if this is a team policy, it is inexcusable.
We like Ovechkin. We really do. We think he is one of the most talented players to have ever played in the NHL. And the fact that he decided to represent Russia after being eliminated in the first-round of the playoffs shows his dedication to the sport.
But the NHL needs him to be more than just a goal-scorer. They need him to entertain. They need him to be available to the media after every win or loss. They need him to wear silly hats and sing silly jingles.
But, most importantly, they need him to talk.
“I don’t want to talk about it. It happened. I feel sorry, but it was an emotional moment for me. I don’t want to say something bad or do something bad, but this happened. Let’s forget about it and move forward.”
from David Pollak of Working the Corners at the Mercury News,
...Nabokov, as usual, wasn’t ducking questions. He took responsibility — but didn’t want to let himself be defined by one game and at one point noted he was in the nets when Russia won the 2008 World Championships.
Here’s the transcript of our one-on-one conversation:
Q: Do you feel added pressure to show people that’s not who you are as a goalie?
“I don’t think one game makes you this or that – whatever it is, a loss or a win. Your whole career makes you who you are. You always want to prove that you’re playing well, but games like that happen. What is different this game from what happened to us against Chicago, you know what I mean?