Nicky celebrates his apple. (Photo: Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson will play for a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics. Team Sweden defeated Teemu Selanne and Team Finland 2-1 early on Friday morning (our time) to earn the right. Erik Karlsson scored the game-winning goal and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves.
While Johansson played only ten minutes and didn’t have much impact on the game, Backstrom certainly did – winning an insane 85% of his face-offs (16 of 19) and assisting on Sweden’s first goal of the night.
We’ve sometimes lobbed criticism at Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates, but one thing we can agree on is that his handling of Alex Ovechkin since being hired has been excellent.
Oates has reinvigorated the Caps captain, helping him to win the MVP the last season. Under Oates’ tutelage, Ovechkin has grown as a player and a scorer.
On Wednesday when asked about the mountains of criticism for Ovechkin after Russia failed to medal in their own Olympics, Oates — in my opinion — had one of his finest moments as a Capital.
Unlike this morning, Wednesday afternoon’s games went as planned. Well, almost. There was that whole thing where Latvia, led by inhuman goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, scared the living hell out of Canadian Hockey Twitter for 55 minutes of rego hockey. But the US put away the Czechs with a strong, evenly distributed scoring effort, and that was pretty cool.
The wins by America and America’s stupid hat set up a rematch of the 2010 Vancouver finals for Friday at noon. It’s going to be absolutely unbearable; I need you to start rationing your anti-anxiety drugs now.
But first: let’s delve into the recap.
It started off so well. Ilya Kovalchuk scored early in the first period of Russia’s quarterfinals game against Finland, but Finland fought back (as good teams do), scoring twice later in the period, including a goal from septuagenarian Teemu Selanne. Finland added another goal in the second period. Russia couldn’t come back. They lost 3-1.
This is no ordinary loss. After getting blown out by Canada in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, this was supposed to be different. Russia was supposed to medal. They were supposed to win gold in front of their home fans.
Instead: sadness, disappointment, blame. Again.
We’ll be updating this post with images and quotes from the players as they come in.
Photo: RIA Novosti
I think Team Russia is fascinating. Scoring just eleven goals in their first four games, the much-ballyhooed offense of the home team hasn’t really shown up yet– especially from their NHL stars. After a brilliant start with back-to-back goals by Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin in game one, Russia broke up its top line, sending Alex Semin to the dreaded checking assignments of the bottom six. The team’s power play, meanwhile, has converted just two of its 13 chances despite having a handful of the best offensive players in the world.
To most observers, Russia has been a disappointment. They’re still very much alive, playing Finland at 7:30 am on Wednesday, but what they’ve shown us so far isn’t what we were promised. Of course, four games is a measly sample– particularly when measuring rare events like goals and power plays. While there aren’t a lot of data available, let’s take a big old grain of salt and play with them anyway.
I don’t really have an agenda in sharing this stuff. I looked it up because I was curious; I thought you might be too.
Backstrom and Mojo, whatta pic. (Photo: @ErikKarlsson65)
Caps Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson and the rest of Team Sweden were busy on their day off. On Monday, the players traveled to the neighboring mountains in Krasnaya Polyana to watch Sweden win the Cross-Country men’s relay.
And down they drop! Tuesday was the first day of elimination in the Olympic mens tournament, meaning lots of high stakes and desperate players. More importantly, the recaps will be easier from here on out because there will be fewer games. Maybe that’s not more important for you, but it is for me.
Peace out, Austria. Adios, Norway. Keep it real, Slovakia. YOLO, Switzerland.
Let’s do the recap.
Photo: Winslow Townson
Team Russia defeated Norway 4-0 on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals tomorrow against Finland. Despite leading his countrymen in shots again today (4), Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin did not score. He hasn’t tallied since Russia’s first game and first goal of the Olympics against Slovenia – a drought of three games – though he leads all of Team Russia in shots fired (21).
Ovechkin spoke after the game to RBC.ru and was asked about the lack of goal scoring. He also had intense words about playing Finland.
Moar jokes from these two!
Before the Washington Capitals left for Olympic break, I asked the non-Olympian players what their predictions were for Sochi. That was great, but I also asked them where they were going on vacation.
Some players were heading home, some were heading back to Hershey, and then others — whom I will not name — might have fibbed a bit about where they were actually going.
Check it out.
After the Brooks Laich dating Julianne Hough news, the only natural follow-up is an article dedicated to butt-checking.
Yes, during Sunday’s game between Russia and Slovakia, Slovak goaltender Jan Laco left the puck for a defenseman behind the net. Unfortunately for him, Alexi Tereshenko hustled and messed up those plans, sending the goaltender into an existential crisis: Should he go back to the net and defend against a possible wraparound? Or should he try to obstruct Tereshenko?
Laco picked option B. It started off subtle. Then it got really, really unsubtle. Laco sent Teresheko into the boards. With his booty.
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