Thursday, February 25, 2010

Russia Bombs

The most anticipated game of the Olympic games turned out to be nothing more than a dud. Thanks to some poor plays in the first period by the Russians. Canada took it to their arch rivals. They scored 4 goals against the Russians in the first period, added three in the second and Canada continues on to play for a medal. Meanwhile the Russians' end up scratching their heads and leaving empty handed.

It would be the combination of KHL and NHL players for Russia that seemed to keep them off kilter all tournament long. Slovakia beat them in the preliminaries and they just didn't play dominate over the Czech Republic. Questions about the coaching, the players and the goaltenders swirled around Russians' heads as they packed up and headed home.

The Canadians did play a very good game, not to take away from their win that keeps them in the hunt for gold on home soil. But this wasn't the kind of game we expected by Russia. The anticlimactic conclusion leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of hockey fans who were drooling to see both teams on the same ice. Instead of an epic game, they got an epic stinker.

They weren't just beat in the score, or in shots, the Russians were outplayed in every aspect of the first 30 minutes of the game. Alex Ovechkin would finish with no points against Canada and was a -2. Alex Semin would be blanked as well. It would not just be a player here or a player there, it was a total team breakdown.

What the problem could have been was Russia's coaching. It seemed suspect that it took Slava Bykov, Russia's bench boss, six goals to pull Evgeni Nabokov. The lines did not gel, the passion wasn't there and the players didn't seem prepared at all at the onslaught Canada brought in the first period. That comes down to who would prepare them, who would get the chemistry going, it came down to coaching. They didn't seem to get that support from their Russian coaches.

Canada played a rough, knock-them-off-the-puck style of play. The Russians could not handle the aggressive and physical nature of their opponents. Then mistake beget mistake. Before all was said and done, Canada built a significant lead. Insurmountable as it would turn out.

With the very short schedule the Olympics crunches its games in, it is hard for any team to get chemistry with their lines quickly. For Russia, it just didn't pan out for them. They didn't make it a game. There is something more sad about that, than just another blow out game.

Olympic notes:
  • USA continues its march to the finals. They defeated the Swiss 2-0. It has been the second time the Americans have played Switzerland and beat them by two goals.
  • Team USA will face Finland after their 2-0 win against the Czech Republic in a goaltending duel.
  • Canada will face either Sweden or Slovakia following their late game outcome.
  • In one night, Capital Olympians are saying good-bye to Vancouver. Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Semyon Varlamov and Tomas Fleischmann were all eliminated on the same day.
  • Dan Boyle took exception to a hit by Alex Semin. Boyle got up and slew footed Semin to the ice. Both were given minor penalties. It is unlikely Boyle's slew footing will be reviewed or any more punishment will come from it as the IIHF does not review minor penalties.

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