It may require another miracle to stop Russian athletes from claiming gold in men's ice hockey.
Running roughshod over a field devoid of NHL players, the 2018 Winter Olympics favorite has outscored its opposition by 17 goals over five games. Following a dominant 3-0 semifinal victory over the Czech Republic, the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) look poised to claim their first gold medal since winning as the Unified Team in 1992.
Germany will earn its highest finish in Olympic hockey history regardless of the gold-medal game's outcome. The surging underdog, which did not qualify for the 2014 Sochi Games, has never notched higher than bronze.
After stunning Canada in the semifinals, Germany has the opportunity to cement another major upset.
Men's Hockey Gold-Medal Game: Germany vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia
When: Saturday, Feb. 24 at 11:10 p.m. ET (Sunday at 1:10 p.m. in Pyeongchang, South Korea)
Live Stream: NBC Olympics
A final match can't get much more lopsided than this.
Germany has mounted off an highly improbable run despite scoring as many goals as it allowed (14). Before winning three consecutive games by one goal apiece, it escaped group play with two losses and one overtime win over Norway, one of two nations (the other being host nation South Korea) eliminated without a triumph.
Having scored 335 points for six teams over his 12-year NHL career, Christian Ehrhoff leads the way for the Germans in terms of experience. The 35-year-old defenseman has deposited one goal and one assist during the Winter Olympics.
Following the semifinal upset over Canada, the veteran reflected on the team's monumental accomplishment, per Rob Arthur of the Toronto Star: "Everybody still talks about 1976 and [West Germany] winning the bronze medal, and now for the next 50 years they're going to talk about us. It's the greatest day in German hockey."
While shunning the NHL closed the gap, other teams still sent more high-class talent to Pyeongchang. Per NBCOlympics.com's Nathan Clark, forward Marcel Goc is the only other member of Germany's roster who has played in more three NHL games.
The Russians, meanwhile, wield NHL icons Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, who have respectively recorded five goals and five assists at the Games. Both veterans could wind up in the Hall of Fame, but the 25-year-old Nikita Gusev has posted a team-high eight points.
Along with possessing significantly superior offensive firepower, the Russians also brandish a goalie edge. KHL star Vasily Koshechkin has aptly shielded the net, recording two shutouts—both in the last three games—and a .951 save percentage.
Per the KHL's official Twitter page, the OAR's Mikhail Grigorenko praised his teammate's consistently stellar performance:
Perhaps Germany does not need a miracle, but it will at least require some luck. The Russians are faster, stronger and far more skilled skaters than their unlikely gold-medal adversary. Germany will need to steal another one-score victory without controlling puck possession.
Don't count on power plays opening a window. While Germany has received an tournament-high 26 power-play chances, the Russians have successfully thwarted 19 of their 20 short-handed situations.
Germany has already defied the odds, but its Cinderella story will probably end with a silver medal. That still marks a major triumph for a nation not expected to visit the podium.