The Russians ended their preliminary games on Sunday against Slovakia with a 1-0 S/O win. Russia, the home town team, is projected to at least medal in the Olympic games. Heading into the Olympics Russia was projected to do well because of their “powerhouse” offense. Today’s game against Slovakia ended in a shootout, their second straight. Not being able to end the game in regulation hurt the Russian team. They will miss out on a bye and will play in an elimination game on Tuesday. Here are five things we learned about the Russian team in today’s game.
1) Alex Ovechkin is not being utilized on the power play.
The Russian team is accompanied by league leading goal scorer Alexander Ovechkin. Not only is he leading the league in goals but he also leads the league in power play goals with 15. Russia went to the power play two times in the third period against Slovakia. Russia had a chance to win the game in regulation with the man advantage. The Russian players only passed to Ovechkin a few times, and only gave him one or two chances. Instead of Ovechkin being placed in the “Ovi Spot” he usually resides at the point near the blue line on the power play. Needless to say the Russians went 0/3 on power plays.
2) Not so much of a “Powerhouse Offense”
Like we said earlier, Russia was projected to do well because of their offense. This has yet to be shown. Russia is having a hard time scoring goals. In the last two games they have only scored two goals. Alex Ovechkin currently has one goal, and that came in the first game against Slovenia. USA has the best goal differential in the tournament with +10, after them it’s Finland with +9, Canada with +8, Sweden with +5 and then Russia with +3. This “Powerhouse Offense” needs to start scoring for hope of winning gold.
3) Goaltending is phenomenal.
Even though the Russians aren’t scoring they are getting bailed out by their goaltenders. Semyon Varlamov recorded a shutout against Slovakia today. Bobrovski record a .939 SV% in a S/O lost against USA. If Varlamov and Bobrovski continue their impressive play Russia might be feared for their defensive side of their play instead of their offensive side.
4) Russia Plays Tuesday.
Russia needed a regulation win and a Canada loss for them to have a bye. That didn’t happen. Instead Russia will have to play an extra game to qualify for a medal match. Russia will also have to deal with back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. They won’t know who their opponent is until the end of the day.
Heading into the Olympics many analysts wondered if the Russian team would feel pressure. In 2010 team Canada was in the same scenario. Players, coaches, and analysts all wondered if team Canada was feeling pressured. They responded by winning the Gold medal in their home country. Russia seemed to quickly dismiss all the naysayers by winning 5-2 against Slovenia in their opener. But then Russia lost to their rivals USA in a S/O. Then the next day Russia fails to score in regulation and lose a point in a 1-0 S/O win which would lead to missing out on the bye. Russia is now playing on Tuesday in an elimination game, and one can only wonder “Are they feeling the pressure?”