LIVE BLOG: Canada v. Russia

Canada wins 7-3 stunner, moves on to semis

3rd Period

18:30 — Garbage time. The key now is to avoid penalties and/or injuries. What an enormous game for Canada. Watch the Vegas odds tonight. My guess? They’re the gold medal favourites once again.

17:17 — boneheaded penalty by Boyle; he’s obviously never seen that youtube clip of Semin trying to fight (look it up, it’s priceless)

15:45 — I’m going break with the crowd here and suggest this isn’t “LU’s” best game. But that terrific save off Malkin probably just won him a start in the semis.

12:30 — The team’s acting like it’s garbage time, letting Luongo take way to many shots. If as, a recent TV shot suggests, Ovie hurt his had, Russia is really in a jam for the rest of the tourney. No wonder the Oligarch’s Box is starting to look like a funeral home.

8:55 — The crowd’s on Ovie. And our boy Sid? He’s one buttock away from being on the scoresheet.

3:05— you know things are going badly for your team when only your goalie’s protruding butt is keeping the puck out of your net.

Can I just use this break in play to voice my amazement at what we’re witnessing here? What on earth is with Russia? It’s as if they arrived without a game plan—not even one on a cocktail napkin.

If this keeps up, it will go down as an epic defeat. Consider how talented this team is. It’s as if they thought they could wing it completely, or that the money the new Russian elite have been pumping into hockey would take care of everything. Now they’ve taken a too-many-men penalty. The look you see on Bykov’s face is a that of a man afraid for his job.

1:45 — Staal down. The hit by Volchenkov should have been penalized. It looked worse in real-time than on the replay. Good to see him still on the bench.

0:00 — Interesting to note: Bykov has given Datsyuk and Ovechkin more ice time than he has is top defencemen. Both topped 14 minutes in the first two periods; Gonchar was the top d-man at 13:47.

2nd Period

20:00 — Shots are 30-20 for Canada, but a glimpse of the Russian power-play at the end of the period gives you a sense of how fragile that fat-looking lead might be.

Hey, remember that Crosby-Ovie thing? So far it’s a squib. Ten goals in 40 minutes and neither has so much as an assist. Dan Boyle has a goal and two assists; same for Getzlaf; Corey Perry has two goals. Secondary scoring wins hockey games, and Canada has gotten it tonight.

17:30 — By far the best shift yet from the Ovie line, which no longer has Malkin on it (he’s with Radulov and Kozlov now).

11:40 — How many of Canada’s goals have come on neutral-zone turnovers by Russia? Terrible puck management by Zinovyev leads to a highlight-reel passing play by Getzlaf, Staal and Perry. It’s seriously depressing the Russians here—who got only a minor charge from Gonchar’s goal. 7-3 Canada.

4:46 — Canada does not, repeat not, want to play run-and-gun with this team. Afinogenov. And why was Keith playing in the middle of the ice. As Howie Meeker used to say, he couldn’t have hit him with a handful of beans. 6-2 Canada.

4:07 — Er .. ignore previous update. Corey Perry, then Shea Weber (who couldn’t shoot it through the netting; what a limp-wrist). 6-1 Canada. Who’d have thunk?

Nabokov is out in favour of Ilya Bryzgalov about two goals too late.

2:30 — Worth remembering: Ovie and Alex Semin play for Washington. Washington erases leads like rain washes sidewalk chalk.

0:00 — Nabokov still in.

Some debate about whether the second goal was Marleau’s. My Globe colleague Eric Duhatschek doesn’t think he touched it. That would make it Boyle’s, but no matter. It doesn’t happen without Marleau’s arse in Nabokov’s face.

Speaking of whom, will we see a goalie change at the start of the second? Nabokov looks terrible. He pulled off the post on the Morrow goal, and that was a very important one for Canada.

1st Period

18:10 — What Brenden Morrow just did is what Yzerman put him on this team to do. Worked the puck down low, and scored blue-collar goal. 4-1 Canada. I think Babcock has found his energy line in Getzlaf-Morrow-Perry. With occasional doses of Bergeron.

What an enormous period for Canada. You hear coaches talk about chemistry and it sounds like a cliché. But Canada has found some in the last 80 minutes of hockey it’s played.

How bad is it? The two Russian women sitting next to me in the press section (why do they never seem to be working?) held their heads when Nash buried that beauty from Toews.

16:28 — Game within the game: Keith and Doughty do an interesting little switcheroo when they enter the offensive zone, so that each is shooting from his off-hand side. It improves your angle on the net.

Little bit like watching a volleyball team rotate for a spike, though.

14:39 — You won’t see many shots as well placed as that one by Dmitri Kalinin. Bykov has their attention. 3-1 Canada.

13:53 — They love Lu in this town, and stops like that crease jam are the reason.

Fyi, things look REALLY quiet up in the Oligarch’s Box.

But don’t count your chickens. The Datsyuk line looks really dangerous to me, and the Canadian defence is giving up the blue line because they’re terrified of the Russians’ speed.

12:55 — Marleau!! who is my underrated player of the tourney (Not Boyle, but it was a nice screened shot). Then a beauty by Nash, and you can thank Geno Malkin for the turnover at the offensive blue line. 3-0 Canada? Are my eyes deceiving me?

10:26 — Canadian PP. Volchenkov hauls down Crosby.

10:06 — my goalie friends tell me those bread-basket catches are a lot harder than Luongo makes them look. Whatever. No rebounds on a Russian power play.

7:58 — Russian PP. Seabrook dumps Alexei Morozov; bit of a dive, but it was there. You now know why Seabrook’s icetime has been limited, talented though he is.

From where I’m sitting it looked like Morozov had half a net when he whiffed on that shot.

5:55 — Bykov, in case you’re wondering, is a laconic coach in the old Soviet vein. But his temper is even. You can bet he’ll settle these guys down.

2:21 — Getzlaf! On a sweet feed from Boyle. Feeble coverage by Viktor Kozlov. I’ll try not to keep harping on this, but I felt that cheer in my rib cage. This is by far the loudest the building’s been since the tournament began.

1:26 — I think several of the players couldn’t hear the whistle on that icing call

Teams are out! It’s deafening in here! Drop the G.D. puck!!

UPDATE: The warm-up is just starting, the building isn’t half-full, and I’m already getting worried about the fragility of the social compact.

We have some seriously assertive—and I’m guessing seriously refreshed—Russian fans in Canada Hockey Place this eve. There’s a loud band of them wearing KHL jerseys and waving a giant Russian flag at the east end of the arena. One has megaphone; another has a trumpet. About 90 per cent of them have beer guts. Restrain yourselves, ladies.

Some Canadians down below started hollering back and waving their flags. One has a sign that says “In Lu We Trust,” referring of course to goalie Roberto Luongo. The Russians, meanwhile, have one reading: “In Gold We Trust.” Gotta say, the Russian’s one’s better.

There’s also a very visible gang of about a dozen people wearing Russian jerseys in one of the luxury suites. I’ll be referring to it as the Oligarch’s Box.

UPDATE 2: Ovie is wearing his regular skates, not the technicolor ones with some sort of evil goat-muppet airbrushed on the blade holders. There goes Russia’s psychological edge.

Most incendiary Canadian sign: DA DA CANADA, NYET NYET SO-VI-ET. Wonder how long before the VANOC taste police seize that thing.


Here’s a sad stat. Canada has nine losses and only one Olympic win against Russia/the Soviet Union/the Commonwealth of De-communized States since 1956—the first time the Motherland sent a hockey team to the Winter Games.

The victory came back in 1960, when Canada was still sending its top amateur team to the Olympics—in this case, the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen. Among a handful of familiar names on the team that competed in Squaw Valley, Calif. was a young man named Harry Sinden.

It was a cracking good game, unless you happened to be a goalie: the Dutchmen prevailed 8-5.

The way the current edition of the Russians play offence, and the way Canada plays defence, a similar result tonight is not out of the question. Either way, we’ve waited a long time for this day. Four years, and two days, to be exact—it’s been that long since Russia dropped Canada 2-0 in the quarters at Turin.

These two teams are very different from the ones who played in Italy, though. Younger, faster, more driven. This will be a treat.

Ovie, Malkin & Co. have their mojo back after a shocking shootout loss to the Slovaks in the round robin. They looked very convincing in the 4-2 victory over the Czechs that gave them a bye to the quarter-finals. The hit-goal sequence that began when Ovechkin demolished Jagr at centre ice was one for the ages.

That said, the Canadians were feeling better after last night’s 8-2 rout of the Germans, who had held Sweden to a 2-0 game in the preliminary round. Canadian captain Scott Niedermayer told us the big spread mattered a lot less than the team’s sense things were finally clicking.

“Just doing the things we talked about doing, having success with them, builds chemistry within the team,” he said. “We were able to make some plays that led to opportunities, and then the guys made the most of those opportunities. And confidence is a big part of the game.”

The game within the game, of course, will be Ovechkin v. Crosby: which young star will dominate? You’d have given the edge to Ovie based on his obvious rapport with linemates Alexander Semin and Crosby buddy Evgeni Malkin. But Crosby did nicely last night on a reconstituted line with Jarome Iginla and Eric Staal.

Of note: Iginla leads Canadian goal scorers with five, despite Mike Babcock’s difficulty finding linemates who click with the Calgary Flames winger. Faceoffs have not been Canada’s strong suit: Joe Thornton and Jonathan Toews share the best average on the team (64.1), which looks good until you consider that Ryan Kesler of the U.S. has been feasting on centre-icemen of weaker teams to the tune of 76 per cent. Yowza.

Fyi, watching the Switzerland-U.S. game out of the corner of my eye and Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller is in a shooting gallery. He’s done an amazing job, but good god, Phil Kessel just rang one off the post on his stick side.

And I know it’s been said before, but the Euros have way better cheers than we do. They’re practically syncopated, and usually led by a sort of beer-fueled drill sergeant.