Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

Five thoughts from U.S.-Russia…which was a good game


1. Jonathan Quick may not have a pulse. Here was his response when asked how he stayed “even” during such a wild shootout: “You go through shootouts during the regular season. You get put into situations like that a lot. You know what to expect.” Yep, just another shootout at the ol’ Bolshoy Ice Dome. Ho-hum. No different than a Tuesday night in Columbus. I guess there’s a reason he plays well under pressure. Anyway, Quick’s obviously the man for the United States going forward. Dan Bylsma called his performance “exceptional,” though the coach did leave the door open to giving Ryan Miller the start tomorrow versus Slovenia.

2. Yes, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov could really scratch Alexander Radulov. I don’t think it was an empty threat. The “among other things” was. Probably. But Russia plays the disaster that is Slovakia tomorrow. If it were an elimination game, maybe it would be different. But when a player takes two needless penalties that result in the only two goals the other team scores in regulation, on a stage like the Olympics, well, his coach is going to be upset. Maybe Bilyaletdinov will reconsider after sleeping on it, but then how would that look after what he said?

VIDEO: Watch OT and the shootout again

3. The crowd is a factor. “For sure, for sure. Definitely,” said Sergei Bobrovsky when asked if the home fans gave his team a lift. “I’m obviously focused on the game, but it’s easy to hear the crowd,” he said. “They were great. They support us very well, so thanks.” On the other side of the coin, here was Ryan McDonagh on the atmosphere: “We knew it was going to be loud with that crowd. We talked about controlling our emotions, and discipline. I think we did a good job of that, not falling into a run-and-gun style of game.” I’ve been in loud North American rinks during the playoffs, and what I heard tonight was just as loud, if not louder. When Russia scored, the sound was physically jarring. Pretty impressive given it’s a smaller rink than the ones in the NHL. Tonight’s attendance was 11,678. (Though I’m not sure that counted Putin. Does he need a ticket? I feel like he doesn’t.)

4. They may have lost, but the Russians were good. “I think our team played great tonight, but our result was not good,” is how Pavel Datsyuk put it. I admit I was skeptical that the Russians were good enough to win gold — I think a lot of people were (and some still will be) — but my opinion of them went up tonight. One thing Bilyaletdinov mentioned is that the power play needs to be better. It scored once tonight, but with all that talent out there, it maybe should’ve done better with the 8:18 it had to work with.

VIDEO: Al Michaels, Doc Emrick discuss game’s historical impact

5. I’m fine with how that game ended. Regular readers will know I care little for NHL shootouts, but it’s never been because shootouts, in and of themselves, aren’t entertaining. I just don’t think it’s a fair way to decide so many games. Tonight was something else. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Zach Parise. And neither have I. It was fantastic drama. Ultimately, tonight’s result isn’t going to cost anyone a medal. It may mean the Russians will have to play an extra game, but that may not be such a bad thing for them anyway. Worked for Canada in 2010.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?