Ovi to soccer ball: “I must stop you.” (All photos taken by Pavel Lysenkov of Sovietsky Sport)

Ahead of its quarter-final matchup Thursday with Canada, Team Russia assistant coach Igor Zakharkin ordered his players to abandon the team’s scheduled morning practice and instead play soccer at Rapid Stadium in Bratislava. Much like former Capitals head coach Ron Wilson, who would arrange team-building bowling outings when the Caps were struggling, Zakharkin is looking to take pressure off of his team.

Russia, who has lost two straight games and is 3-3 overall in the tournament, has not gelled at any point during their time in Slovakia and has played in five straight one-goal games. The dominant team that had won 27 straight World Championship games last year has not appeared. If they lose against Canada, Russia will be eliminated.

Zakharkin spoke with Sovietsky Sport’s Dmitri Ponomarenko and Vitaly Slavin about his decision to avoid the rink today and also discussed the shirtless soccer goalie above, Alex Ovechkin. Fedor Fedin has your translation.

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