The daggers were out following Russia’s 3-1 loss to Finland on Wednesday, many pointed in the direction of head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov.
“Coach Bil” came under heavy fire during the postgame media availability — attended by PHT’s Jason Brough — and it proved to be as dramatic a scene as what transpired on the ice:
Russian journalist scolding the coach for not playing Malkin and Ovechkin on different lines. Great theater in this presser
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) February 19, 2014
First 10 questions at coaches press conference all directed at the losing Russian coach. What theatre. — Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 19, 2014
Russian reporter asks if this was a “catastrophe.” Russian coach Bilyaletdinov: “Let’s not play word games. I said it was unsuccessful.” — Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 19, 2014
Russian coach says it’s difficult to explain why they couldn’t score. He can’t explain it. — Jason Brough (@JasonPHT) February 19, 2014
“I can only say words of apology.” — Russian coach through translator
— Jason Brough (@JasonPHT) February 19, 2014
In terms of game specifics, two things immediately jumped out. One, Bilyaletdinov referenced Alexander Ovechkin’s lack of goalscoring — Ovi scored 77 seconds into the tournament-opening game against Slovenia, then failed to score again — and reportedly did so without prompting.
Two, according to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, Bilyaletdinov had to be told by Evgeni Malkin to pull Sergei Bobrovsky at the end of the game for an extra attacker.
Bilyaletdinov shouldered the majority of the blame for the loss, saying “I’m at fault for everything” while apologizing repeatedly for the early exit. Speaking of exits, Coach Bil’s ended up being difficult…
Russian coach asked if he would stay in Sochi to watch the Games. Through translator: “No. I’d rather leave.”
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 19, 2014
As he tries to leave, Bilyaletdinov cornered at the door pic.twitter.com/QGlC2sQYNS
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 19, 2014