It’s the game many figured would be the Gold Medal showdown: Canada versus Russia. This is the game that many around the world have been waiting for. It’s unfortunate one of these teams will finish a disappointing 5th place (at best), but that’s the way it goes in an International tournament as deep as this one. It goes without saying there’s a lot riding on this game for both teams.
While there will be many keys to this game, here’s a few I think stand out and should have a big impact on the final score.
Team Play & Chemistry
I can’t help but think the biggest key to this game will revolve around which group can play more like a team. Both Canada and Russia have struggled finding chemistry between linemates and having star players adapting to different roles. Canada has the advantage, having played an extra qualifying game (Tuesday night) to work out some kinks. As far as Russia goes, top players like Alex Semin, Alex Radulov and Pavel Datsyuk haven’t played at their best in this tournament as a result of reduced ice time and different roles (compared to their NHL/KHL roles). Canada’s star players have adjusted to their roles better than the Russians over their last two games. Advantage: Canada.
It’s amazing that Shea Weber is the only defenseman of both teams to have a goal in the 2010 Olympics. Having said that, Russia’s powerplay is quarterbacked by Andrei Markov and/or Sergei Gonchar. While Canada’s powerplay has improved, they are still guilty of forcing passes and making predictable plays. Advantage: Russia.
Roberto Luongo versus Evgeni Nabokov. Not sure how much there is to dissect here. This game probably ranks among the biggest starts for both goalies in their respective careers. I try to be as objective as possible, but in all honesty, I don’t have much confidence in Nabokov and big game performances. Frankly, I like Russia’s chances better with Ilya Bryzgalov starting, but that’s just me. Advantage: Canada.
Crosby versus Ovechkin
I suppose no Canada-Russia match-up is complete without mentioning Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin going head to head against each other. So far, I haven’t been overly impressed with Crosby in these Olympic games. Before you yell blasphemy and accuse me of being unclassy, hear me out. Crosby has been very good in this tournament, but not as dominant as I expected. Maybe it’s because he seems to have new wingers every game. I’d like to see Crosby shoot more pucks to the net, rather than pass off quality scoring chances for potential highlight reel setups. When you look at impacts to their respective teams, I think Ovechkin’s splash is slightly bigger than Crosby’s. My analysis could very well change after tonight’s game. Advantage: Russia.
Regardless of which team wins, this should be a great game. It’s easily the biggest quarter-final game in this tournament and should draw the highest interest. It’s very possible fans will go through enjoyment, excitement and high periods of stress all at once. Consider that your warning! Get ready for some world class hockey and remember, we’re still in the quarter-finals!
So tell me classy readers, what’s your prediction? Who wins and what’s the score? Also, what do you think will be keys to the game? Thanks for reading Stayclassy.net.
Stay classy, highly anticipated Canada-Russia showdown.