Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hey, A little help here if you can ... Bobrovsky left to fend for himself as Canadians roll over Russia

Russian net minder Sergei Bobrovsky is going to be reporting to his Columbus Blue Jackets training camp in a few days and the first thing he'll probably do is take a deep sigh of relief at the prospect of having some help from the blue line for a change from his last week or so.

And that's saying something considering the Blue Jackets offered up 252 goals against last year, second worst in the NHL and yet compared to the corps on the Russian line this tournament, the Blue Jackets look like lock down specialists.

The signs were building for much of the week that the Russians were a little thin on the blue line but perhaps Bobrovsky should have been prepared for Saturday night's defensive shortcomings when he cracked open the fortune cookies for a glimpse on the game to come.

Bobrovsky did all he could to stem off such omens for Mother Russia on Saturday night, making for the main difference between at least keeping things respectable, as opposed to suffering a humiliation on the ice as he held off a high octane Canadian lineup.

A squad that while scoring five goals over the course of the three periods, probably left the ice following their semi-final victory wondering how with 47 shots on goal, they didn't get even more behind the Russian goal line.

The Russian defence was horrendous in their showdown with the Canadians, allowing the home side into their zone time and time again, the concept of clearing the front of the net, or taking a man once and a while, seemingly forgotten once they jumped over the boards and onto the ice.

Offensively they weren't much more effective, while a second period lead at 2-1 provided for a temporary case of the vapours for Canadian fans, once Team Canada had returned the universe to its balance it quickly became clear that the Russian team, while gaining 34 shots on goal,  didn't really seem all that dangerous or inclined to be making much of a push, that might give much further cause for distress for the Canadian side.

For Canada Brad Marchand continued to make for a fascinating story line for the tournament,  his play a major difference maker for the Canadians, adding to his reviews on the week by snaring two goals that proved to be quite instrumental in Canada's 5-3 victory over the Russians.

Both of which came as a result of some terrific work from Captain Sidney Crosby who got the puck over to Marchand on both occasions for the finishing touch.

Another strong night for Sidney Crosby
as he bested long time rival
Alexander Ovechkin in Saturday's semi-final
Of course Marchand has benefited from shared ice time with Sidney Crosby, who once again was no slouch on the ice himself, picking up a beauty of an opening goal as he forced a turnover in the Russian end to set the pace for Canada.

Besides his opener and the assists on the Marchand goal, Crosby continued to have a dominating presence on the ice, overshadowing Russia's Alexander Ovechkin who struggled to find any kind of offence on the night.

Russia's marquee player was slowed down rather effectively by Jonathon Toews and his line mates, frequently leaving the Russians frustrated for much of the sixty minutes as they became bogged down an incapable of moving the puck with any authority.

Russia did offer up some resistance and for a brief period in the second period had pulled ahead of the Canadian squad and appeared ready to set the scene for another Canada/Russia thriller, however Team Canada settled their play down shortly after that brief spurt.

Marchand's first goal of the night coming just one minute after the Russians took the lead, his second in the opening two minutes of the third returned a one goal margin for the Canadians and they never looked back.

Corey Perry picked up his first goal of the tournament less than five minutes later, the marker not only providing the cushion that gave Canadian fans an opportunity to breathe, but also appeared to finally knock down any Russian prospects of a push back.

John Tavares also grabbed his first goal of the World Cup salting away the victory at the 9 and half minute point of the third, the Canadians by that time in full control of the flow, dictating the play as they wished.

Russia made one more mark on the scoring sheet with less than ten seconds to go in the game, with an extra attacker on the ice Artemi Panarin was credited with the Russians third goal of the night, though replays suggest that it probably should not have counted, however with time close to expiration no challenge was issued, the Canadians content for the centre ice puck drop and the sound of the horn.

Canada moves on to the Finals set to begin on Tuesday evening, their opposition will be sorted out on Sunday afternoon as one of the pleasant surprises of the tournament Team Europe look to spoil any plans that the Swedes have of securing their place in the three game final.

For the Russians they will scatter to their various directions, the NHL based players to their training camps those in the European leagues or Russia's KHL will make their return overseas. And while they return to the ice, they will leave it to the officials back in Moscow to try and figure out why their development program suddenly no longer can deliver the likes of a Fetisov, Mironov, Zubov or Zhitnik.

Members of defensive units that once held a strong presence on a Russian blue line and gave hockey fans a totally different theme to consider when talking about Russian hockey.

You can find more on the Canada/Russia semi-final from our  Game Day Archive page, which features game summaries and a collection of commentary and analysis of Saturday night's match up.

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