Russian columnist accuses Canadians of drug use

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It’s one thing to feel disappointment after your hockey team fails to
medal, especially when many expected at least a silver. It’s one thing
to walk away angry after a wholly disappointing effort. Even Russian
president Dmitri A. Medvedev was angry
over his country’s weak performance.

“Those who
are responsible for training for the Olympics must take
responsibility,” Mr. Medvedev said on Monday. “They must have the
courage to submit their resignation,” he said. “And if they do not have
this resolve, we will help them.”

That’s one thing.
That’s expected, and you have to respect that stance. They are angry
and the country wants to do better, especially with the next Winter
Olympics being held in Sochi in 2014.

Yet columnist Timothy
Bancroft-Hinchey of the online Russian newspaper Pravda has taken a
different stance. He alleges that not only were the Canadians taking
performance-enhancing drugs and getting away with it, but that the
Russian athletes were having their food laced with drugs as well.

I
kid you not. More after the jump.

From the Pravda article, which
is the top story on their website today:

The middle finger and the giant raspberry go to the
Canadian ice hockey team. Were they on drugs the day they beat Russia so
overwhelmingly? These days, and since the USSR’s 8-1 thrashing of
Canada in the early 80s, Canada-Russia ice hockey games are always very
closely fought events and there has not been such a monumental
difference between the two sides. Very strange, the more so since the
same Team Canada (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) put in an
extremely lacklustre performance against lowly Slovakia and was lucky to
reach Sunday’s final. And for anyone who is about to be shocked by the
question, one supposes it is OK to make cheap and gratuitous references
to Russians and doping, but when the ball rolls back home it hurts.
Right?

We will never know, will we? We will never know,
because the officials at Vancouver predictably did not mete out to the
Canadians the shockingly humiliating treatment given to the Russian
skier Natalya Korosteleva, asked to produce a urine sample during the
break between the quarter-and semi-finals of her event. Had she
complied, she would not have had time to enter the semis. And such was
the hounding of the Russian athletes that there are rumours many refused
to eat for fear their food would be laced with steroids.

Obviously, this is just a Russian columnist writing
for an online, sensationalist newspaper. But this cannot be a serious
article, can it? Is he really accusing the Canadians of not only lacing
the Russians food, but being involved in a Martin-Scorcese-level
conspiracy that has the Canadians taking drugs and then the IOC testers
overlooking it?

He goes on to say that none of the Russians will be
missing Vancouver, and it was all just a big waste of time. Somehow, he
ties in Russian health-care and the overall employment rate in his
argument, but this is easily just one big, insane rant. Right?

Is this seriously what the Russians want to start,
when they will be hosting the Olympics in four years?

Fight video: Brouwer makes Watson pay for Hathaway hit

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Austin Watson nodded with recognition after landing a questionable hit on Garnet Hathaway on Saturday, as he understood why Troy Brouwer demanded immediate retribution.

And, as you can see from the video above the headline, Brouwer got that bloody payback after beating Watson in a fight.

Watson (who isn’t that far removed from a two-game suspension) was ejected for his hit. It wasn’t the only nasty moment between the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames, either, as the toxic exchanges included Anthony Bitetto‘s ugly cross-check on Sam Bennett.

(Video or a GIF of Bitetto’s hit will be added if it becomes available.)

Some other penalties reduced some of the advantage for the Flames, but they ultimately still received serious man-advantage opportunities amid all of the violence, and they weren’t able to convert.

The best news is that Hathaway might end up being OK after a scary-looking check. He returned to the game during the third period.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Should Erik Johnson be suspended for ugly play on Namestnikov?

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Vladislav Namestnikov has been the Mikael Renberg equivalent on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Legion of Doom with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov for much of this season, complimenting those two scorers with strong work of his own.

The Lightning were lighting up the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night, perhaps frustrating Erik Johnson and others. Whatever the explanation might be, it was a pretty ugly sight when Johnson slashed and then boarded Namestnikov, earning those two penalties plus a game misconduct.

Plenty of people believe that supplemental discipline would be merited for Johnson’s actions. For what it’s worth, “Names” did return to action in the third period. We’ve seen instances where players return only to be hurt anyway, so we’ll see if the nifty winger sees any delayed issues.

Johnson, 29, was suspended for two games by the NHL back in 2014, but has a generally clean history otherwise.

The Lightning ultimately ended up beating the Avalanche 6-5, as Nathan MacKinnon almost led a rally with two power-play goals.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Senators blank Canadiens in NHL 100 Classic

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One win, even in the frosty outdoors for the NHL 100 Classic, only means so much.

Still, the Ottawa Senators probably experienced some ice-cold relief on Saturday, beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 during a tightly defended outdoor bout.

It was 0-0 for much of the game until Jean-Gabriel Pageau tipped an Erik Karlsson shot for the first goal with about five minutes remaining in the second period. Bobby Ryan then capitalized on a rough Jonathan Drouin turnover to make it 2-0, while an empty-netter iced the icy evening for Ottawa.

For a night, it was a fun time, and Karlsson reminded us what all the fuss is about, as he logged a ridiculous 32:55 of ice time. And he seemed to be having a good time doing it.

This night laid the “Canadian” on thick, with Bryan Adams performing during the event, and Gary Bettman posing for photos with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

via Getty

Weird, but OK then.

Generally speaking, things haven’t been that OK for the Senators lately. Such headaches did surface during this frosty-mug-on-ice event, as owner Eugene Melnyk inspired a #Melnykout hashtag on Twitter, not to mention icy barbs like these.

Fair criticisms about the Sens’ bigger picture aside, Ottawa looked nice tonight, with Karlsson shining and Craig Anderson pitching a rare shutout outdoors (shutoutdoors)?

Carey Price generated some nice saves of his own, but couldn’t will Montreal to win in his 10th consecutive start. The Habs rarely got things going against the Senators, seen most easily in Ottawa’s 38-28 advantage in shots on goal.

Nights like these make a bigger impact on fans’ memories and bottom lines, but this marks consecutive wins for the Senators either way. Considering the fact that the Senators hadn’t put back-to-back wins together since they faced the Avalanche in two contests in Sweden, it might not be a big deal, yet it’s far better than the nothing they’ve been coming up with far too often lately.

Also

In other news from the event, Mario Lemieux’s “five goals, five different ways” was named as the NHL’s greatest moment, voted by fans:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sadly, Capitals aren’t selling this collection of Christmas songs

via Capitals
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Let’s be honest, virtually any time a team gets its players to embrace a holiday theme, it’s in the name of goofiness. And bless NHL teams for this.

When it comes to Movember, you get the fantastic combination of mustaches and charitable contributions.

The holidays are rapidly approaching (hey, I see that Amazon tab open), so we’ll start to see various New Year’s/Christmas/Festivus/etc.-themed fun. Even with that in mind, the Washington Capitals will be tough to top with their collection of Christmas tunes.

Sadly, there’s no Volume 1:

Question: which performance stood out to you the most? While Braden Holtby was fantastic (with a Tomas Plekanec-level turtleneck game), the simple entertainment of watching Alex Ovechkin sing is tough to top.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.