In 2010, Team Canada overcame enormous pressure to win Olympic gold on home ice. In a matter of days, the Russians will try to do the same in Sochi.
“The pressure is enormous and it’s growing every day,” says forward Pavel Datsyuk, per the IIHF. “Everyone is expecting only one thing from us. And we won’t have the right to make an error.”
The difference between the Canadians in 2010 and the Russians in 2014 is that the former were heavier favorites to get the job done.
On paper, the latter has a dangerous collection of top-six forwards, including NHL stars Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin. The Russians look good in goal too, with Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky and Vezina candidate Semyon Varlamov.
It’s the defense that’s potentially problematic, especially against deep teams like Canada, Sweden, and the United States.
The wild card is playing at home — a factor that most expect to be in favor of the Russians. But with all the pressure that comes with high expectations, from fans that haven’t celebrated Olympic gold since 1992, there’s also the chance it could backfire.