2010 Olympics: Russia Played Like Germany

Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIIFebruary 24, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 24:  Roberto Luongo #1 of Canada makes a save during the ice hockey men's quarter final game between Russia and Canada on day 13 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 24, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In a quarterfinal game between Canada and Russia in which the loser would receive the title "biggest bust of the Olympic hockey tournament", it was no contest.

Russia probably played its worst game against Canada since it started playing against NHL players back in 1972 and lost 7-3, which is ironically the same score the USSR plastered Canada with in the first game of that 1972 series. 

The win also marked the first time Canada has beaten Russia/USSR in the Olympics since 1960.

Give Canada credit; they were ready, played well, and above all showed the intensity a team needs in an elimination game, but when you get seven goals scored on you, especially the way they were scored on Russia, you can more point to the loser playing poorly than the winner playing well.

Russia looked unprepared from the coaching and goaltending out, allowing bad goals and making no attempt to match lines even though they had the home ice advantage.

They were outscored 4-1 in the first period and gave up 21 shots, a performance you might expect from a B-level team like Germany whom Canada had defeated the day before, but not by Russia.

Both teams looked undistinguished before this game.  Canada had managed to beat up a pair of B-Level teams, Norway and Germany, struggled against their first quality opponent, Switzerland, and then lost to another quality team, the United States.

The Russians in turn beat up B-level Latvia, lost to quality opponent, Slovakia, and then redeemed themselves somewhat by beating the Czech Republic.

But instead of gathering momentum from that victory, Russia got exposed like a piece of cheese full of holes.

They were beaten to the puck continually by the Canadians and in one-on-one battles.  They were out-skated and out-hit and showed little intensity or desperation needed in an elimination game.

Lots of blame will be placed on goaltender Evgeni Nabokov who had a horrible game, but when you get 21 shots aimed at you, most of them high quality, in the first period, some are bound to go in.

Canada especially took advantage of Russia's slower defencemen who were unable to handle swoops from the outside.

As for the forwards, the Vancouver crowd got little chance to boo Alexander Ovechkin.  He was invisible.

It was not the defeat by Canada, a quality opponent, that hurt.  It would be no upset if either team won.

But the way it was done, a 7-3 loss by a flat-footed Russian team who seemed to be playing in a daze and were well behind in the game before they realized what was happening to them, that has to sting.  The score could even have been worse.

Russian fans have more reason to be incensed with their team than Canadian fans were when their team lost to the United States.  They won't be debating about the strength of their opponents, but why their team was so unprepared for this tournament.

Before this game, Canadian fans were prepared to crown their team with the goat's horns.

Now, even if Canada loses its next two games and finishes out of the medals, they will still be worn by Russia.