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?

Islanders shut out Canadiens for huge road win

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18:  Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders in action against the New Jersey Devils on February 18, 2017 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Islanders 3-2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Overall this season the New York Islanders have really struggled away from the Barclays Center, a point of concern when you consider how many road games they have down the stretch as they try to overcome their miserable start to climb back into the playoffs.

Their current nine-game road trip is off to a promising start with wins in the first two games, including a 3-0 shutout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night to improve their record to 12-4-2 under new coach Doug Weight.

The Islanders received goals from Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee and John Tavares in the win, while Thomas Greiss stopped all 24 shots he faced to record his third shutout of the season.

With the win the Islanders hold sole possession of the second wild card spot in the East for the time being, two points ahead of Florida and Boston (the Bruins are in action right now) and continue their stunning second half turnaround.

But while things are going great for the Islanders right now, the struggles in Montreal continue.

With their loss on Thursday they failed to put any extra distance between themselves and the rest of the Atlantic Division that has suddenly closed the gap on them. They remain just two points up on Ottawa and only four points ahead of Toronto. The loss also continues what has been a particularly brutal stretch over the past couple of months that has seen the team win just seven of its past 20 games.

It’s probably too early to start fully panicking in Montreal, but given the way the end of last season went this can’t be a promising development for Canadiens fans.

Blackhawks’ Hjalmarsson leaves game against Coyotes

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 22:  Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Chicago Blackhawks looks to pass against the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on January 22, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 4-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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After taking just four shifts in in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson had to leave Thursday’s game with an unspecified injury.

The Blackhawks did not offer any update on what forced Hjalmarsson out of the game, only to say he would be out for the remainder of the evening.

Fortunately for the Blackhawks they dressed seven defensemen for the game when Michal Rozsival drew back into the lineup, so they still have a full lineup of defenders to finish the game. Surprisingly, Rozsival scored his first goal of the season just two minutes into the second period, breaking what had been a 3-3 tie following a wild first period that saw the teams combine for six goals.

In 59 games this season Hjalmarsson had five goals and nine assists while playing more than 20 minutes per night, mostly on a pairing with Duncan Keith.

Blackhawks and Coyotes combine for six goals in wild first period

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 18:  Nick Schmaltz #8 of the Chicago Blackhawks moves against the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on February 18, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Oilers defeated the Blackhawks 3-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The first period of Thursday’s Blackhawks-Coyotes game had just a little bit of excitement as the two teams combined for six goals, including two by the Coyotes in the final three minutes of the period to erase what had been a two-goal deficit.

All of the action started just 37 seconds into the game when Nick Schmaltz, playing on his 21st birthday, scored his sixth goal of the season (shown above) on a feed from a still white hot Jonathan Toews.

Seven minutes later, Coyotes rookie defenseman Jakob Chychrun scored his second goal in his as many games to get things even at one.

That is when the chaos started to break out. The Blackhawks quickly struck for two more goals when Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane scored six minutes apart to give the Blackhawks what would end up being a very short-lived 3-1 lead. Just one minute after Kane’s goal Ryan White netted his seventh of the season to bring the Coyotes back to within one, a goal that was followed by Radim Vrbata‘s 13th of the season just one minute after that.

Here are the two Coyotes goals that tied it.

Chicago came into the game on Thursday on a goal scoring tear, scoring at least four goals in seven of their past eight games. They are off to a great start when it comes to reaching that mark again on Thursday.

Trouble is, they can not seem to keep the puck out of their net on Thursday.

WATCH LIVE: Arizona Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 07:  Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates with the puck against the Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Phoenix Coyotes in the second period at Jobing.com Arena on February 7, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Winners of seven of their past eight, the Chicago Blackhawks are back home on Thursday night to take on the Arizona Coyotes.

The Blackhawks have been on a roll lately, especially offensively, scoring 34 goals in their past eight games. They have scored at least four goals in seven of those games. Captain Jonathan Toews has been doing a lot of the work offensively lately and is having a huge second half after a disappointing start to the season offensively.

On Thursday they host a Coyotes team that has shown a lot of improvement in recent weeks, putting together an 8-4-1 record since Jan. 20.

Puck drop for Thursday is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET and you can catch all off the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

Click here for the Live Stream

Preview: Jonathan Toews looks to stay hot against Coyotes