Today, Russia’s 27 game World Championships winning streak came to a devastating end in a post-olympic rematch against Jaromir Jagr’s Czech Republic team. And much like the match in the Olympics earlier in the year, the pivotal play of today’s World Championships gold medal game was a huge Alex Ovechkin hit. But this time, it was the Russian Machine accidentally laying out and injuring one of his own teammates, Sergei Fedorov (above), which led to Tomas Rolinek’s game winning goal in the second period. Riding stellar goaltending from Tomas Vokoun and an incredible team defense, the Czechs took a 2 goal lead into the third period that they would never relinquish. Our beloved Ruskies fall to the Czech Republic 2-1. Silver has never tasted so bitter.
Like one would expect, the Russians came out and played with fire. But much like the Canadiens/Capitals series, most of Russia’s chances came from the perimeter. And the Czechs waited and pounced on any mistakes Russia made. A sense of real urgency only revealed itself towards the end of the third period. And by then it was too late for Russia.
Both Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin played well but only managed to have a few good opportunities to score. Semyon Varlamov, like he has all tournament long, played exceptionally well and did not surrender any soft goals. (An aside: We still think he should have been player of today’s game over Viktor Kozlov today. Kozlov did nothing but take a killer penalty at the end of the game. Give that man a watch!)
Our own Fedor Fedin blames the coaching of Vyacheslav “Slava” Bykov and Igor Zakharkin for not realizing the potential of such a star-filled Russian roster. People in Russia may blame the superstars on Russia’s roster like Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Evgeni Malkin, but if you watched today’s game, it’s clear the system and coaching is not where it should be. Fedor believes strongly that former Red Wings player Igor Larionov should be named the new coach of the National Team. Make it happen, Russia. The clock’s ticking.
Moving forward, we extend our congratulations to Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Semyon Varlamov for winning silver and playing pretty incredibly considering their extremely difficult schedule this year. Playing in a 82 NHL Regular Season, the Olympics, the NHL Playoffs and the World Championships must have taken a huge toll on their bodies and we hope they take the next few weeks to relax and put this year behind them.
Below are a few screen captures from today’s game. Common theme: devastation.