The game between Team Canada and Team Russia lived up to its hype. There was no shortage of skating, tremendous passing, and shooting. There were also some spectacular hits that will undoubtedly be addressed when the NHL season starts play again.
Canada’s defeat of Russia was its first in the Winter Olympic Games in over 50 years which gives the team an added boost as they move to the next round.
Team Canada’s sparkling performance placed them back in contention as a Gold Medal winner. They showed their talent, discipline and dominance throughout the entire contest.
Several game analysts forecasted Russia dominating Canada in the hitting department, but that prognostication did not pan out. Canada hit and hit often.
The Russian team at times resembled the team that played the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1980’s in the Super Series. That team left the ice totally exacerbated by the Flyers relentless physical assault on any Russian player with the puck. Eventually that Russian team came back on the ice to play the Flyers, but the damage psychologically was already done.
At times the Team Russia looked lost and bewildered as Team Canada skated off with the puck in their zone.
The Crosby versus Ovechkin matchup never materialized, but the difference was that several Team Canada players stepped up to deliver the goods while Russian players such as Kovalchuk, Malkin, and Datsyuk were marginalized to a large degree.
Ovechkin to his credit attempted to dominate physically but his efforts proved ineffective. Not much went right for him in that game and he went to his bench with a hand injury. His departure sealed his team’s fate before the final buzzer ever sounded.
Team Canada dominated the game for several reasons.
Canada was more aggressive and disciplined, and had superior goaltending and coaching. Canada also dominated on defense while getting their defensemen involved in the offense.
Team USA has every reason not to take anything for granted against Canada if they play them again for the Gold Medal. This is what the Olympics are all about.
Team Canada's goaltending was solid and consistent, turning aside shots and limiting Team Russia's opportunities to get back in the game.
Team Canada consistently beat Russia to the puck and hit everything that was moving in front of their goaltender. Canada also passed unselfishly, opening up numerous scoring opportunities.
The Canadian defense stood up at the blueline. They also joined the attack at every opportunity. Shea Webber, Dan Boyle, and Drew Doughty provided sparkling play when the team needed it.
Canada played aggressively the whole evening, scrambling for loose pucks, venturing in the corners without a second thought, and communicating with each other on the bench. The Canadians showed they have jelled as a team.
Mike Babcock showed his ability to create line combinations that were effective. He did not hesitate to move around star performers for the benefit of the team. His chess moves worked to perfection in the game against Russia.
Yzerman and Babcock have not lost their cool despite all the pressure surrounding the Canadian team.