Alex Ovechkin is separated by an official from going after Brooks Laich while Steve Downie whisphers sweet nothings in his ear.
Well, it wasn’t exactly a rematch of the Olympics, but Canada’s defeat at the hands of the Russians might salve some of the wounds from February. In a 5-2 thrashing, some of the Russian Olympic team beat some of the Canadian Olympic team, and it only took 78 penalty minutes to happen!
Today’s game was noteworthy in that Brooks “Lugnut” Laich opposed a ton of his current and former Capitals teammates (Ovechkin, Semin, Fedorov, Kozlov, Varlamov, Rasputin, Zhivago) and didn’t evaporate any friendships in the process. Aside from one tense scrum and a blocked wrister from Varlamov, the friendly rivalry was not a factor in the game. What did matter was the steady drip of penalties leaking from the referee’s whistles. Across twenty seven penalties, the officials dealt out 78 minutes of penalty time (30 for Russia, 48 for Canada). If this wasn’t the most litigated pro hockey game you’ve seen in a while, I do not want to see your hockey games.
Oh, the off-season. While the Stanley Cup contenders whittle each other away, we Caps fans are left to look at the Russian media in confusion. Today’s scrum over Alexander Semin smoking might set the standard for our hockey coverage between now and September. So, yay.
Using Fedor Fedin’s masterful translation skills and cultural insider status, we trace this thread to its beginning. It all started when Ovie and Semin were in Russia before the World Championships. They were dining at a restaurant when the intrepid and not-at-all-unscrupulous Russian press snapped some photos of Semin smoking a cigarette. That’s when the insanity began.
CAVEAT: This isn’t exactly Dmitry Chesnokov-caliber journalism. Let’s have a grain of salt and throw back this tequila shot of “news.”
Dear God, the Russian Machine does bleed red blood like the rest of us.
The wounds from the Caps’ round-one playoff loss are still raw, but we are on the mend. The downtrodden leader of the Caps’, Alex Ovechkin, has linked up with his countrymen to mend some of those wounds. The world championships began this weekend in Cologne, Germany, reuniting Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, and Alex Semin with their former teammates, Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov. Today’s match found the Capitals Russians facing off against the Slovakians, coached by former Caps benchmaster, Glen Hanlon.
The Russian goalie, massive Vasili Kosechkin, did not face a flurry of pucks until late in the second period. When the Slovaks finally mounted their offensive attacks, a sneaky wrister from former Capitals farmhand Ivan Majesky threatened to start a scoring spree. The Russians managed to hold off the Slovaks’ recovery, earning them a first round win– Alex Ovechkin’s first in four games.
As of a few weeks ago, the prospects for the Russian National Team at the World Championships did not look very rosy. Injuries to Zaripov, Morozov, coupled with not very good play of the goalies in the Gagarin Cup gave Russian fans legitimate concerns. And the failure of Vancouver is far from forgotten, which will cast a negative shadow on everything regarding the Russian team.
However, the results from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were like balm to the soul of our fans. New Jersey Devil Ilya Kovalchuk, Los Angeles Kings Alexander Frolov, and Nashville Predator Denis Grebeshkov were eliminated. And the Washington Capitals struggled against the Montreal Canadiens and ended their season, thus releasing Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Semyon Varlamov to the national team.
As it turns out, throughout the season we can root for our hockey players in the NHL, but when it’s playoffs time, we are all together in wishing them defeat.
But the real question is, what’s the mood of the NHL players who are coming to the team? Especially of those who were looking for a better result in their NHL seasons.