Minutes after Russia won the 2014 World Championship, suspended head coachOleg Znarok made his way down to the ice to celebrate with his team. Znarok, who coached Alex Ovechkin in Dynamo Moscow, was immediately greeted by the Russian team captain. Ovechkin, grinning from ear to eat ear, waved over his teammates.
Team Switzerland had a porous performance at the World Championship. Led by Roman Josi and Damien Brunner, the Swiss failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing fifth in Group B due to Mikhail Grabovski’s game-winner for Belarus. Eliminated before the end of the preliminary round, the Swiss played spoiler for Latvia, who needed a win to make the quarterfinals.
Late in the third period, Latvia trailed 3-1. After pulling goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, the Latvians got a goal back from Zemgus Girgensons on a deflection. Soon after, Kaspars Daugavins turned the puck over, giving the Swiss a chance to seal the deal. Reto Suri and Thomas Rufenacht went two-on-none towards an empty net.
On July 1st, Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski will become a UFA, free to sign with any NHL team. While I can only assume whoever the Caps hire as GM would want to re-sign him way before then (please), Grabo has been quietly raising his price halfway across the world at the 2014 World Championship.
If you’ve ever wanted to see the Russian machine play with actual Russian machines, today is a good day for you. On Thursday, Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Russian National Team did just that, visiting an armored fort near Minsk, which is a part of the Stalin Line.
The Stalin Line.
The line, created in the 1920s to protect the USSR against attacks from the west, consists of concrete bunkers and gun emplacements. It’s basically a less elaborate Maginot Line, which may mean something to approximately 2% of you.
On their off day, Ovechkin and his comrades visited a remaining part of the line, close to where the World Championships are taking place in Belarus. Just like that shirtless soccer game a few years ago, team officials probably hoped the event would bring the team closer together.
Maybe that happened, maybe it didn’t. For sure, it became a giant photo op and no one took it seriously.
Not kidding. Chara was bad. The 6’9” Norris trophy winner scored an own goal, committed two penalties, slipped on multiple invisible bananas, and had one particularly weird incident involving Brendan Gallagher and a temporary suspension of the rules of physics.
Washington Capitals forward Mikhail Grabovski scored a late game-winning goal in Belarus’s upset victory over Switzerland on Monday. The win substantially improved the chances that Grabovski and his teammates will make it out of the group stage at the World Championship. That’s huge for Belarus and its fans, and it explains why Grabovski celebrated like he had just won the Stanley Cup after scoring on the breakaway.
Back at the Olympics, Team Russia got eliminated from medal contention by Finland. It was sad. Even the mascot, the Sochi Bear, which literally had a smile fixed on its face, couldn’t keep it together.
Russia got revenge on Sunday, though some of the names and faces were changed. Buoyed by an Alex Ovechkin power-play goal (his second of the tournament), Russia beat Finland 4-2, ending a year-long losing streak to the Finns. It was Ovechkin’s second goal and his third point of the tournament.
Russia is now 2-0 in the World Championship and has outscored its opponents 9-2. Without Teemu Selanne, who is busy or something, Finland is 0-2 and may miss out on even qualifying for the playoffs.