Kelly Twomey off Twitter said it best:At the start of the Olympic tournament, Mike Babcock alluded to the adversity that the 2002 Olympic team faced in Salt Lake City, losing 5-2 to Sweden and barely edging past Germany 3-2, and how it was that adversity that jumpstarted Canada on its path to gold. He then went on to say that he hoped this year's team didn't have to face that adversity. With Sunday's loss to the USA, Babcock didn't get his wish, but that's fine, because if things keep up at this pace since that game, Canada might very well steamroll its way to the podium. Winning against Germany left many unconvinced, but tonight's 7-3 rout of Russia gave Canada a degree of legitimacy as having regained their footing in the tournament. They scored as Chicagoans are encouraged to vote: early and often. Getzlaf started it off within 3 minutes of the first period, Boyle followed it up with a power play tally 12 minutes in, and less than a minute after that Nash put Canada up 3-0. Russia's Kalinin cut the lead to 2 at the 14:39 mark, but just before the period expired Morrow reclaimed the 3-goal lead. The second period saw 2 more Canadian goals by Perry and Weber in the first 5 minutes, and finally Nabokov was pulled and Bryzgalov placed between the pipes. Russia responded not long afterward with a tally by Afinogenov, Perry countered with his second goal of the night. At 11:40 Gonchar scored on a Russian power play, and though the game remained explosive, that would be the last time the goal horn was heard. Canada advances to the semi-finals, facing either Slovakia or Sweden for the chance to compete for gold. For this game's preview I noted a couple of things to watch out for. Here they are, revisited, after the jump: Russia's Offense They did score on the power play tonight, but it's interesting that 2 of their 3 goals tonight were scored by defensemen. We'll never see the exactly how potent the Russian offense can be, though, because all of their superstar snipers never really clicked, and a tournament this short needed to see chemistry from the get-go. Ovechkin was held scoreless--incidentally, so was Sidney Crosby, and after most previews touted this as another amazing Sid the Kid vs Alex the Great rematch, I am ridiculously proud of myself for staying out of that hype. They've done fairly well in this tournament, but among other superstars I don't think it surprising that they didn't rise above the rest. Canada's Slumpbuster Yeah, Germany was a slumpbuster, but Canada was also eager to prove it wasn't a fluky one. The Staal-Iginla-Crosby line was pretty quiet tonight, and it was Getzlaf-Perry-Morrow that stole the show with a combined 4 goals. Toews' line with Richards and Nash had a pretty great showing, and Canada's defensemen jumped in offensively, contributing a third of the scoring with a combined 7 points. The Goalie Controversy? Luongo made 25 saves out of 28 shots against, giving him a SV% of .892. He couldn't have done anything against the first goal, though, and to avoid any more discussion on the topic (because Blackhawks fans don't have enough of it), let's just leave it at that. Nabokov vs the Burger Line Well, here's the thing. The Sharks line didn't quite dominate their teammate, but
If you had heard a Sharks player would absolutely choke tonight, who would have guessed it'd be Nabokov?Blackhawks, Represent! Keith and Toews both got 2 assists for the night, with Toews now leading the tournament with a +9 rating and 7 assists. I can't confirm (stat sheets for the Olympics are confusing) but it also seems Canada has never had a goal against while Toews was on the ice. While Keith led all Canadian defensemen with ice time (22:54, with Doughty a close second at 22:33) though, Seabrook continued to alleviate Blackhawks fans' selfish concerns about overworking NHL Olympians by warming the bench. He was only on the ice for 7:49. At any rate, Canadians (and those rooting for Team Canada) have quite a lot to be happy with following tonight's game. The lines are, for the most part, clicking, and though the defense needs to tighten up quite a bit, and the goaltending is not as stellar as one would have expected (oy vey, that sounds familiar), the winter games have definitely not disappointed, and we should be treated to some more of the best hockey we'll see in a while for the next few days.