The Russians have been alternating their goaltenders throughout the Olympics, so even after Vezina Trophy-winning netminder Sergei Bobrovsky posted a 22-save shutout against Norway in Tuesday’s qualification round match, Russia went with Semyon Varlamov against Finland.
It didn’t work out.
Although Russia’s defense deserves its fair share of the blame, Varlamov allowed three goals on 15 shots as Finland took a 3-1 lead by 5:37 of the second period. With Russia’s chances of winning a medal on home ice — let alone the gold — in jeopardy, they went back to Bobrovsky.
The Russians have had no shortage of problems and concerns in this tournament, from their questionable defense, to a top line with Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin that hasn’t been able to dominate like they should, to a theoretically deadly top power-play unit that hasn’t clicked. Although Russia has been able to defeat teams that have far less star power and talent, it hasn’t looked particularly good overall.
The one exception has been Russia’s goaltending as both Varlamov and Bobrovsky have been superb in this tournament — or at least that was the case going into the quarterfinals.