Russia Finn-ished in Sochi

(courtesy of Jean Levac/Postmedia News)

<span style="font-family:Georgia; font-size:17px;This is the Georgia font, size 13px.There are many things in life that are guarantees. Water is wet, the sky is blue, and if you’re a fan of the Russian national team at the Olympics, seeing your team constantly fail is a sure thing. This was supposed to be their year according to those who believe in wishful thinking. After embarrassment in Vancouver, the home ice was supposed to help push the team to unseen territory (the podium) a place they’d hadn’t graced since 2002.

However it seems they were almost destined to fall flat on their faces from the start. From Vladimir Putin putting the gold medal as the priority ahead of the entire Olympics, to Nike designers placing gold stars of every soviet gold medal on the shoulders of their jerseys, to even the players promising their participation in the games regardless of the NHL’s. All the hype, hope, and soviet red machine music videos have brought us back to exactly where we started.

By failing to win all three of their round robin games and having to qualify for the semi-finals, Russia never did themselves any favors with the extra ice time to come together and work as a unit. Instead their powerhouse offense on paper stayed exactly there as the majority of the offense came from the players from the KHL as their NHL counterparts were missing in action at times.

Heading into a highly unfavorable match-up against Finland, Russia needed more than ever to play as a unit against a team who has the ability to shut opposing offenses down. Things started on the right foot for Russia who got a rare power play goal from Ilya Kovalchuk who celebrated really hard for someone who has scored much bigger goals than that in his career.

The enthusiasm lasted almost as soon as it began with Juhamatti Aaltonen tying the score after dekeing effortlessly past Nikita Nikitn and tucking one past Semyon Varlamov. While Varlamov played strong for Russia all tournament, today was just not his day, as an additional two unanswered goals by the timeless Teemu Selanne and Russian killer Mikael Granlund saw him being pulled in favor of Sergei Bobrovsky.

A defensive error by Slava Voynov allowed Grandlund to find Selanne on a two-on-one to beat Varlamov and it would be Granlund cleaning up after his captain to put it out of reach. While neither goals were worthy of a stamp, they would seal Russia’s fate as Tukka Rask shut the door and the hopes of a nation with every of his 36 saves.

Now we deal with the expected fall out from the Russian media to the Russian hockey hierarchy, and of course a certain winger remembering how to score goals upon returning to the NHL. Russia now looks to rebound at the World Championships in Minsk where they will look to capture gold having failed to medal last year.”>

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