Canada Vs. Russia Postgame

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If anything could exorcise the fears of Canadian hockey fans after a middling start to the Olympics, it would be a sound thrashing of the Soviets Russians.  And against all odds, that was what happened last night, as Canada skated out to a 4-1 lead and finished the game off in convincing fashion with a 7-3 win over the Communist threat their long-time rivals.

Entering the game, Evgeni Nabokov had not been bad for Russia.  The San Jose Sharks starter had a .911 SV%, which while not lovely was okay, but which wasn’t nearly as good as backup Ilya Bryzgalov (.939 SV%).  Nabokov struggled against Canada, and while the defence didn’t help him out all that much he was the team’s biggest problem, and he ended up allowing six goals on 23 shots (.739 SV%).  Bryzgalov was brought in far too late by head coach Vyacheslav Bykov, and although he shut the door (.947 SV% on 19 shots) it was already over.

The Canadians also did a good job of containing the Russian stars, particularly Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin who combined for just one assist and a minus-4 rating, but it was the offence that stole the show tonight, peppering Russia with 46 shots, and with some unlikely players standing: in fact every one of tonight’s three stars had been having lacklustre tournaments.  Some familiar faces also continued to perform well; Jonathan Toews recorded two assists as did Duncan Keith while Shea Weber scored another goal.  Once again, Luongo was more okay than brilliant, although he managed some solid saves.

The bottom line in all of this is that Canada can now finish no worse than fourth and is much closer to the gold medal game than they were just one day ago.  The disaster that would have been finishing out of the top four has been averted, and the national soul-searching can be deferred to the Russian Federation.

Three Stars

 

1.  Dan Boyle.  The Sharks defenceman has not been especially good in this tournament, but all of that changed tonight as he scored a highlight reel goal, added two assists and led the team with a plus-3 rating.  He looked every inch the veteran puck-moving defenceman that Steve Yzerman thought he had named to the team.

2. Ryan Getzlaf.  Another player who had his best game of the tournament, Getzlaf opened the scoring just over two minutes in.  He finished the night with three points, and threw a huge hit on Anton Volchenkov after the Russian defenceman knocked Eric Staal head-first into the boards.

3. Corey Perry.  Two goals for Perry go a long ways towards making up for a brutal effort on Ryan Kesler’s empty net goal in Canada’s loss to the United States.

Comments (13)

  1. My question is really how can you pick 3 stars when so many of the canadain players played so well like they should have been doing all tourny long!

  2. They were the top three players that made the impact and improved during this game and waked up after snoozing and floating during the round robin.

  3. JW- thanks for the live-blog yesterday, it was fun for half the game until my internet connection crapped out. God I hate Bell more than anything else in the world, the Russians included.

    As for the game, I find it was somewhat of a letdown… it was real exciting for the first 20 minutes but when it became obvious the Russians were totally out of it, it kinda got boring.
    I guess because I was expecting a tight, hard fought, blazingly fast game, I was a bit disappointed when only 1 team showed up to play.
    But bottom line, the boys won and atoned for the USA game so doing.

    I agree with your first star; I was really impressed by Boyle’s decision taking yesterday, in contrast with the rest of the tournament. I always liked him as a player and thought he deserved to be on the team in the first place, but after the first 3 games I had started to doubt. Hopefully he keeps this up for the next 2 games (yeah I’m an optimist).

  4. Also: Slovakia. SLOVAKIA!

  5. Haha, how things have changed since post U.S game! Need to shrug off big win though, and get back down to preparing for Slovakia as well as we did the Russians. Slovaks obviously not to be taken lightly, they have wins against two solid teams… and are far and away the best team on special teams in the tournament thus far, sitting atop the PP and PK % rankings. Hot goalie could give us trouble in this one, but we looked damn good last night!

  6. keep lines together 2 games in a row, change back to luongo, play physical and play smart = TEAM CANADA . Finally , it looks like we got ourselves a hockey team. Now if Mike Babcock can leave it alone and not start mixing things up like before we should do alright. Go Canada.

  7. I don’t think Babcock will change his lines much, given yesterday’s success pretty much up and down the lineup. It will depend on whether Staal can play (he did finish the game but sometimes after the adrenalin goes away, a broken rib or a bum shoulder can hurt like hell – his fall into the boards looked pretty bad) and if Toews get promoted to a scoring line (like all of our lines aren’t scoring lines…!). Other than that I see no reason to change anything.

    As a Habs fan I fear Halak deep down, but if we take it to them like we did the Russians and to an extent the Germans, we should be fine for 3-4 goals at least. It’ll be the D’s job to keep the Handzus line under wraps and as Howedy said, stay out of the sin bin!

  8. Morrow is another guy who looked out of place earlier in the tournament but really got up for the Russians.

    In my mind all they really need now is for the bulk of the team to play at a similar level as they did against Russia and for Crosby to step up his production, as he was pretty much invisible. It would be nice if Thornton could bring his ‘a’ game too, but it’s probably not strictly necessary.

  9. I don’t mean to be a dick, but Russia scored the 4th goal of the game, making it 3-1. The score was never 4-0 Canada.

    Also, stats page at the CTV Olympics site is very telling. Check it out at
    http://www.ctvolympics.ca/hockey/statistics/gender=m/index.html

  10. Sorry, Jordan – I did mean 4-1 Canada.

  11. Wow can you imagine there’s a chance that the Gold medal game could involve the Slovaks and the Fins? Who in their right mind could have seen that one coming although I imagine most hockey fans and the NHL higher ups are hoping for a Canada vs US final. The Slovaks are obviously not to be over looked and Halak’s value continues to rise like crazy do to this. You got to imagine some of the offers that Gauthier is getting for him right now are the best offers anyone’s getting for any player. Either way this tournament will come down to a duel between the goaltenders regardless of who is in the finals. But with the way Canada has played most recently and in the tournament as a whole. Halak better be standing on his head. As will either Miller or Kipper if we get past the Slovaks.

  12. One has to start wondering about Ovechkin in big games. When things don’t go right early, he seems to fold up and go away. Last night, Game 7 against Pittsburg last year, Game 7 against Philly the year before, all the way back to the World Junior final in Grand Forks in ’05.

  13. Crosby owns Ovechkins ass when it comes to the object of playing hockey; winning. Everyone can argue all they want and say ovies so great, but what has any of his teams won when it was him in the spotlight. he is great at being flashy and foolish celebrations… but as I have stated before I think he is useless in the clutch, and will never have as much success as Crosby.

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