The year 2014 wasn’t all for naught for Russia.
Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin each scored to help Russia defeat Pekka Rinne and Finland 5-2 in the gold medal game of the 2014 IIHF World Championships in Belarus.
Ovechkin’s goal 7:34 into the second period tied the game 2-2 and Malkin’s 5-on-3 power play goal put Russia ahead for good 8:02 later. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots to earn the win for Russia. Rinne stopped 34 for Finland.
Have a look at Malkin’s eventual game-winning goal here:
The gold medal is Russia’s fourth in the past seven years at Worlds. While they haven’t won gold at the Olympics since 1992 (then as the Commonwealth of Independent States), they’ve dominated the annual tournament of late. The Russian team
Next year’s tournament heads to Prague and Ostrava in the Czech Republic.
Here are the full highlight’s from Russia’s win.
The Washington Capitals rough offseason may have just gotten a lot worse.
During the third period of Team Russia’s 3-0 win against Team Germany, Alex Ovechkin was upended on a hip check and put down on the ice. Ovechkin needed help from trainers getting off the ice and went straight to the locker room putting no weight on his right leg.
Slava Malamud of Sport-Express says things don’t look good at all at the moment as he was taken from the arena in an ambulance.
The peril of having star players participate in the World Championships means they can still get injured playing hockey, just ask Eric Staal last year when he was injured in a knee-on-knee hit by Alex Edler.
If Ovechkin is injured seriously, it’s a major blow to the Capitals as they’re in need of a new GM and coach as it is. Having to possibly deal without Ovechkin makes for a brutal turn of events.
Update (4:58 p.m. ET): According to Malamud, Ovechkin was taken to the hospital for a MRI to examine his lower-body. To cool down the possible hysteria, he clarified the person who said it was “pretty bad” was a team official and not a doctor.
The Capitals have also released a statement on the injury:
“We are aware that Alex Ovechkin sustained an injury during today’s game versus Germany. Our medical staff is working with Ovechkin and Team Russia to gather additional information at this time.”
Update (5:58 p.m. ET): We might be able to take this down to DEFCON 4 in Washington — Ovechkin is back at his hotel and walking around.
To add to that, here’s more good news:
Finally, to put this to bed, here’s Ovechkin giving thumbs-up on Instagram.
Things didn’t exactly go well for Alex Ovechkin during the season for the Washington Capitals or for Team Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, so now he’ll try to find another way to end the season on a winning note.
Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov reports Ovechkin will join the Russian team on April 20 for the 2014 World Championships in Belarus.
Russia will be looking to rebound from last year’s shocking 8-3 quarterfinal loss to the United States at Worlds. Ovechkin has been, if nothing else, a steady participant for his home country when it comes to Worlds. Of course, most of that ties into the lack of success the Capitals have had in the postseason as an early exit there frees him up to play in the IIHF tournament.
Ovechkin won’t be headed to Belarus alone as Caps teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov will also join him on the Russian team. Russia last won gold at Worlds in 2012 when they knocked off Slovakia. Russia has won gold at three of the past six tournaments so they’ve at least got that going for them.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin won a gold medal with Team Sweden in 2006, so he knows a bit about what it takes to win on the international stage.
That’s why when Sundin sounded off to TSN Radio in Toronto about the performance of Russia, it’s worth at least paying attention to.
“I was almost disgusted by their performance when they played Finland,” said the 43-year-old who played 18 seasons in the NHL. “I look at the Finnish team and they’re missing key players. They don’t have any of their big stars and now [Rask] is hurt and that Russian team is stacked with great players and to come out and have that performance they had in the quarterfinals. It was an absolutely heartless performance.”
Sundin went on to question the Russians desire further saying if the presence of Russian president Vladimir Putin couldn’t inspire them, he didn’t know what else could do it.
As Sundin mentions, Finland had a host of key players missing including Mikko Koivu, Valtteri Filppula, and Aleksander Barkov. Russia’s key players like Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin had less-than stellar performances in the Olympics but for the most part their offense didn’t do enough to help them win on the whole.
Still, when retired players are coming out of the woodwork to pile on, it’s a sign things in Russia need to change if they’re going to win a medal in 2018.
Team Russia’s failure to win a medal on home ice in Sochi is a disappointment for Russians all over, especially those who didn’t get to represent their country.
New Jersey Devils forward Andrei Loktionov was asked about his feelings on the Olympics and didn’t hold back. Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger shares the story.
“It’s happened way too many times in the last three Olympics. A lot of star players. I think they can’t play with each other. Too many leaders,” said Loktionov. “Everybody was waiting for something. Hockey is the (most important) medal.”
Direct and to the point.
That said, were there too many stars on the Russian team? Outside of the top six forwards (Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Radulov, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Semin), the Russian lineup was filled with either young, upcoming potential stars or guys from the KHL.
Chemistry, on the other hand, is a good point. Throwing everyone together and expecting them to jell immediately can be asking a lot. In Russia’s situation, goals were hard to come by and they did look out of sync in the five games they played.
As for having too many leaders, well, there are a lot of captains on the Canadian and United States rosters and they’re playing tomorrow for a shot at gold.