Knee-jerks: Russia 4, Sweden 2

kneejerk.jpgMOSCOW – Today we continue an OFB tradition and provide knee-jerk reactions to the Russia-Sweden game in Khodynka Arena.
A surprisingly chippy game tonight, with Sweden running the Russian goalie a few times and Russia angrily responding. Sweden dominated early, but the momentum shifted early in the second period when a Swedish shot hit the post, careened off the Russian goalie Alex Eremenko’s shoulder, and skittered through the other side of the crease out of harm’s way. Russia scored a few moments later, and what could have been a 2-1 Swedish lead became a 2-1 Russian lead. From that point Russia controlled most of the play, though Sweden’s goal at the end of the second to make it 2-2 kept things close.

  • Entertaining moment during team introductions: The “Mission: Impossible” theme played as the PA announcer introduced the Swedish players. A fun little tweak of the visiting team by the hometown arena staff.
  • Capitals prospect Nicklas Backstrom notched a beautiful primary assist from behind Russia’s net. He fed a quick pass to Alex Steen who banged it home while falling to the ice (see photo). We asked him about the play in a postgame interview, and he said it was an instinctive reaction once he saw Steen driving the net: “I just saw him there . . . It was easy for me.” He went on to say he was happier with his performance this game than Sunday’s against Finland and feels he played with more confidence, but still hopes to improve.
  • Backstrom left the ice late in the third period in obvious pain, gingerly climbing over the boards. When asked if the injury was serious, he responded, “No, no, it’s nothing.” So breathe easy, Caps fans.
  • Alexey Morozov’s penalty shot in the first period was a thing of beauty.
  • Kovalchuk skated with passion for sixty minutes tonight — something one does not often see from him in a Thrashers uniform. He made a few incredible dekes and was explosive and physical, even starting a scrum at one point (that the linesmen quickly defused).
  • Malkin was electrifying. With Ovechkin serving his one-game suspension, Malkin seemed the clear crowd favorite. The cute female ushers in our section put aside any pretense of objectivity; they literally jumped and shrieked whenever he made a play.
  • As intense as Malkin was, the crowd was even wilder. Their angry whistling was deafening when the referee (correctly) disallowed a Russian goal due to goaltender interference. Every time Sweden had the puck or the referee made a questionable call, the crowd’s deafening whistles rained down on the ice. And the Russian fans’ sustained roar as the clock ticked down left a lasting impression on these North American hockey observers.

(continued on the Washington Capitals’ site)

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4 Responses to Knee-jerks: Russia 4, Sweden 2

  1. pepper says:

    To the one-half of you in mother Russia, you seriously must be in heaven, not just hockey heaven, just heaven, period.
    Non-stop hockey and schmoozing with hockey insiders, and I note the frequent references to “cute” Russian women, ushers, hotel guests, etc, etc, swilling by night what I imagine to be quality vodka that Russia House can only hope to provide, and waking up late to then, what, watch more hockey! Plus the weather is nice n’ brisk eh?
    When you return, I want you to translate all of these spam emails I’ve been receiving in Cyrillic! I’m sure I’ve got something good coming my way.
    Great photos too guys. I’ve heard that the subway system is a splendid example of a public works project.

  2. Vlad says:

    Hey, I really enjoy reading your coverage, so thanks a lot for that.
    I’d also like to hear your thoughts about the hockey that is being played, what kind of systems the different countries employ, how these systems match up, how the Caps’ players perform in this context, and what insight can be gleaned for the Caps’ future.
    Salivating over the time Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin trio steps onto the ice!(although I guess they won’t all end up on the same line)
    Ovechkin looks lost with Team Russia.. can’t blame it all on his linemates, either. Its interesting that in this sense Kovalchuk has taken a step forward, and Ovy has regressed a bit.. but he’s young, so he’ll come around.

  3. OrderedChaos says:

    Vlad, that’s an excellent question, one we’ll try working into our analyses (though it may merit an article of its own).
    As for Ovie, he looked a lot better in yesterday’s win. Though if I had to pick the three most effective Russian players right now, it’d be Malkin, Morozov and Kovalchuk.
    Pepper, I wish it were all shmoozing! And the only vodka I’ve had so far was one on the plane ride over here. But we’re undoubtedly having a wonderful time.
    And yes, the metro system is impressive.

  4. Final bit of the article, in case the link to the Caps’ site breaks again:
    Heading into elimination play, three forward lines clearly stand out to the Washington Capital’s team of correspondents:
    Slovakia’s Marian Hossa, Pavol Demetria, and Marion Gaborik
    Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Frolov
    USA’s Eric Cole, Paul Stastny, and Lee Stempniak

    Sergei Gonchar, when asked if this could be the best Team Russia he’s played on, replied, “One of them, yes. The biggest difference is we’re playing [our system] much better, we’re having fun, and we’re playing well as a team. That’s the thing that’s giving us that extra boost of energy.” They certainly showed it tonight.

    Sweden played well early, but Russia dominated as the game progressed. Undefeated Russia looks to be the favorite in the tournament; if they maintain this level of skill and intensity, it’s hard to imagine them falling short of gold.

    Our Three Stars of the Game
    1. Alexey Morozov, Russia
    2. Evgeni Malkin, Russia
    3. Ilya Kovalchuk, Russia

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