Last night was definitely something NOBODY saw coming. Before the Canada game with Russia I said it was going to be a close game and predicted a 5-4 Canada win...I wasn't alone in thinking it would be close. Most analysts agreed, however it turned out to not even be a contest.
I knew for sure Canada would come out strong on the puck and forecheck hard, but I never imagined how much we would dominate a very powerful Russian team. For almost the entire game Canada was in complete control. There were a few shifts where Russia had control of the puck in the Canadian zone for a fairly lengthy time but those were few and far between, and primarily on the power play.
When Canada was pinned in their own zone Roberto Luongo was very solid. The 3 Russian goals were very nice ones. The 2 from the D were beautifully screened and he had no chance. The semi-break away goal I think he should have had, however it was a nice handcuffing shot by Maxim Afinoganov. At the other end of the ice however Evgeni Nabokov was not good at all. A few goals he had no chance on and were nice passing plays with odd man rushes, however there were a few he WILL NOT be happy with letting in. The goal on Rick Nash, while it was a nice wrist shot, should not have gone in. Nabokov went down way to early giving an entire net for Nash to shoot at. The Brendan Morrow goal was a comedy of errors on the Russians end. They gave him all the time in the world to walk out in front of the net. He then wrapped around the net and put a weak backhand somehow through the leg of the Nabokov. That was the story of the night for the Russians, bad defensive coverage and shaky goal-tending. He should have been pulled well before Canada had scored their 6th goal. At that point there was little to no hope that Russia would be able to come back and win. For a long time now people have said the Evgeni Nabokov was NOT a big game goalie, and that he was part of the reason for San Jose's struggles come playoff time. And after this performance, those claims have never been more validated.
Even though Canada came out on top, and in dominating fashion there was some bad refereeing. There were 2 missed calls for too many men on the ice, and a missed call on a vicious hit sending Eric Staal slamming into the boards. They finally caught a too many men on the ice the 3rd time around but just imagine if Canada had gotten those 3 extra power plays, the score would likely have been even higher. But the too many men on the ice I can get over, it's the hit by Volchenkov on Staal that irks me. Staal hadn't touched the puck, so at the very least they should have called an interference penalty. But it should have been even more than that. He was hit viciously into the boards and the call should have been boarding, if not hitting from behind. He stayed down for quite a while before eventually making his way to the bench in some pain. He would stay in the game but that was a cal in which the refs cannot afford to miss. The talked about it but didn't call anything. They did call a "make-up" call moments later but it doesn't give justice to the hit on Staal.
The Volchenkov hit was another story of the Russians defeat...poor physical play. Canada came out flying, hitting everyone that moved. And it was everyone on the team laying out the hits; Crosby, Nash, Staal, Morrow, Weber, Doughty all laid out some nice body checks. The Russians didn't seem to know what was happening. Ovechkin and Volchenkov are essentially the only physical Russians, and there was little from them the entire game. The lack of physical play coupled with the poor goal-tending was the eventual destruction of the Russians.
Overall it was a game Canada can be proud of. We lost to Russia in the quarter finals 4 years ago and it was time to exact revenge. Canada didn't hold back, they played the same way as they did against the Germans and had the same results. Now we head to the Semi's where we take on a surprising opponent. Everyone expected Sweden to beat Slovakia fairly easily. I saw many people on facebook and twitter saying "bring on the Swede's". I argued that Slovakia is a team that's much better than people are giving them credit for and few people agreed. But now we have them in the next round after they knocked off Sweden 4-3. We cannot take them lightly. We need to play this game the same way we played the 3rd period against the USA, and the full game against German and Russia. Keep up the physicality, quick crisp passes, and shooting a lot of pucks on net. We have a better chance at beating Slovakia than we did the Swede's, but that doesn't mean we can take Slovakia lightly.
If Canada plays the way they have been for the full 60 minutes who knows what the score could be. I'm almost afraid to predict after watching what they did to Russia. However I will say Canada wins 6-2.
For this and more on Team Canada, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs by me you can check out www.thereedreview.com