The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/14/14 at 03:18 PM ET
Tomorrow morning (at 7:30 AM On the CBC and NBCSN), Team USA and the Russians are facing off in perhaps the most anticipated game of men's Olympic hockey's preliminary round play.
After insisting to R-Sport that he feels "all right," NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports that Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk engaged in the slightest bit of blustery talk ahead of tomorrow's possibly-Putin-attended grudge match:
"If we play our hockey, it'll be easy for us," Datsyuk said after practice Friday. "If we start to play not our hockey, not good for us."
The U.S. isn't planning to make it easy for Russia in the second game of Group A preliminary-round play for each team (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
The Americans want to be hard, fast and physical every chance they get against the Russians. They'll use a shutdown defense pair of Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin against the uber-skilled line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin. They may also use a bruising checking line of Dustin Brown, David Backes and Ryan Callahan against those three Russian stars....
Datsyuk, though, had a warning for the American players who like to hit.
"It's a big arena, a long run to [hit someone]," he said. "We know how to play."
Better yet, Datsyuk doesn't think the Russians will have the same type of nerves going into the game Saturday as they did Thursday, when they jumped out quickly on Slovenia but had to score twice in the third period to pull away for a 5-2 win.
"It's a little bit less now, it's more comfortable, but we know [Thursday was] Slovenia and the U.S. is a different level team," Datsyuk said. "We need to prepare now for America, a bigger game, and be ready in every game now."
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