Keys to victory for Canada and Russia

February 24th, 2010 by Burgundy Leave a reply »

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

Stay classy, highly anticipated Canada-Russia showdown.

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  1. Got to go with Canada, although I am very nervous about the game. It is too bad that after tonight one of the big power houses will be out of the games.

    Pressure and forechecking will be key the Morrow, Toews, Richards line will be out a lot and doing their thing

    I’m thinking OT will be needed but Canada will get the win on an Ovi turnover.


  2. metricjulie says:

    I think the following statement sums up what I think about this game:

    “Canada’s star players have adjusted to their roles better than the Russians over their last two games. ”

    So, mostly based on that and their win last night, I’m going to say Canada beats Russia in OT.

  3. metricjulie says:

    And also, there goes my strategy – and the lead – in the Olympic pool.

  4. Fantana says:

    Russia over Canada 5-4.

    I haven’t been impressed with Canada all tournament because when I watch them play, it’s like some of the players think they’re playing in an All Star game.

    I agree that the team game is going to be a big theme tonight but I also think that the other two keys will be special teams and the “who wants it more” factor.

    At the end of the day, I think the Russians want to win more than Canada does and unfortunately, that’s why I think they’ll beat Canada. Sorry Canada… I hope I’m wrong on this.

  5. Mantooth says:

    This is going to be a too tough to call game.. I’m rooting for Canada, of course, but both teams are pretty much equal in strengths and weaknesses. I would’ve loved to see this as a Gold medal game.

  6. jennyquarx says:

    I keep going back and forth on this one. I think I’m going to have to go with Canada. I think it’ll be an amazing game regardless of the outcome. Great post.

  7. Burgundy says:

    Thanks for all the comments, guys. I’m not sure my nerves could handle an OT finish!

    I’m gonna say 4-2 Canada. I think they are slightly more ready for this game than the Russians are. Apparently the Russians are pretty nervous about the game too. That could make for an interesting factor in tonight’s game.

    @ Julie – I hope that means I can catch you in TheHockeyCardShow‘s hockey pool.

    @ Fantana – Good thoughts, as always. Special teams will be so huge. “Who wants it more”… tough. I don’t feel like like know players like Radulov and Semin well enough to be convinced they want it as badly as a guy like Ovechkin or even Crosby, Morrow, etc…

    @ Justin – Canada definitely need more forechecking, I totally agree. I’ve really liked the aggressive play Morrow’s had. Also, I think Toews has been among Canada’s best players all Tourny long!! With he and Doughty barely old enough to drink, it makes me think Canada’s got some terrific leadership for years to come.

  8. GelatinousMutantCoconut says:

    I don’t mean to toot my own horn but….TOOT TOOT.

    Who called it? :P

    Sorry, I’m not trying to be obnoxious, but I was one of the few who saw right through the Russians, and it feels good to be right.

  9. Burgundy says:

    As far as I’m concerned, GMC, toot away. Not obnoxious at all!

    I was watching in shock last night. It was so surreal to see the Russians play that badly. I don’t know what was up with Nabokov but he let in anything/everything. And so many turnovers from their forwards. So unlike the team we all expected. Definitely a shock. Kudos to Canada though. That first period was something to remember.

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