Photo: Bruce Bennett
This is gonna be bad.
Russia got knocked out.
Sweden 5, Slovenia 0
The inevitable crushing of the Slovenians should do nothing to mute how excellent they were in their first Olympic games. Sweden has infinity more NHL players and five times the population to draw from. Slovenia played excellently and should be immensely proud of what they have achieved.
Oh wait, they already are:
— Anze Kopitar (@AnzeKopitar) February 19, 2014
The Slovenes did all they could to fend off the Swedes, but it was a rout: 33 shots to 19. Alex Steen combined with Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Sedin got an assist with Loui Eriksson, and Nicky Backstrom aided Loui on a goal of his own. Carl Hagelin shook off a scary hit to get two goals in the final ten minutes. That’s exactly what Sweden wanted to see before they go into a tough semifinal match against Tuukka Rask and Finland.
Here’s Steen’s goal, by way of Pete Blackburn:
Finland 3, Russia 1
Tuukka Rask stopped 37 of 38 shots from a disorganized Russian offense to guarantee Finland a shot at a medal. Ilya Kovalchuk struck first for Russia with a ludicrous power play slapper, but it was all Finland from then on. Juhamatti Aaltonen of Liiga returned fire one minute later, followed by Teemu Selanne (forever) and Mikael Granlund. Someone let Team Russia’s decision-makers know that the the game-winner and the insurance goal were scored by NHL players.
This guy was fantastic:
Russia’s offense never really made sense. They put a KHL scrub on the top line with Evgeni Malkin and Ovechkin. They didn’t take any lessons from Adam Oates– either at even strength or the power play– to maximize Alex Ovechkin’s output. Russia gave Ovi the puck in neutral instead of setting him up in the offensive zone. They didn’t activate him on the power play. They had him playing out of position. Ovi finishes the tournament with 24 shots, one goal, and a shedload of incoming bile.
This could have been Ovie's moment to prove he too can win, "just like Crosby", instead, it's more evidence to the contrary.
— Gino Reda (@GinoRedaTSN) February 19, 2014
To his credit, Ovechkin took questions from the press, telling Corey Masisak, “It sucks. What else can I say?” Bobrovsky and Datsyuk later faced the press as well.
So that’s 50 billion dollars down the drain (yeah right). The medal that meant most to the host country has eluded them. Actually, that’s too passive voice. The Russian hockey team was not good enough to win a medal at their own Olympics. Not good enough on the roster, not good enough on the ice, not good enough individually, not good enough collectively.
This is gonna be bad. We’ll be tracking all of the fallout in an open post.
But for now, all aboard the USA bandwagon!