If we are honest, the idea of North America versus Canada had so much appeal that it took a day to get behind the idea of Canada versus Russia. Fortunately, the two nations have a lot of history on the ice that allows both sides to build up a good lather. Add to that the built-in Sidney Crosby—Alex Ovechkin rivalry, the fact Mike Babcock will want to announce his presence with authority to Russian coach Oleg Znarok (seriously, that is his name) and assistant Harijs Vitolins (really). It’s tuques versus ushankas for the right to play Sweden or the Seven Nation Army.
Today’s Semifinal—Canada vs. Russia is at 7 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. Edmonton time, 4 p.m. Vancouver time. Available via CBC, CBCSports.ca, CBC Sports app.
Brad Marchand – Sidney Crosby – Patrice Bergeron
Logan Couture – Jonathan Toews – Corey Perry
John Tavares – Ryan Getzlaf – Steven Stamkos
Ryan O’Reilly – Joe Thornton – Matt Duchene
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester – Drew Doughty
Alex Pietrangelo – Brent Burns
Vladimir Tarasenko – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Artemi Panarin
Nikolay Kulemin- Evgeni Malkin – Alexander Ovechkin
Evgeni Dadonov – Vadim Shipachyov – Ivan Telegin
Vladislav Namestnikov – Artem Anisimov – Nikita Kucherov
Dmitry Orlov – Nikita Zaitsev
Alexei Emelin – Andrei Markov
Dmitry Kulikov – Alexey Marchenko
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov backing him up. Both lineups are subject to change. Russian teams routinely shake things up with surprise roster decisions.
THREE THINGS WORTH KNOWING
- Since 1972 and the original Canada-Russia series, the two nations have had many big games. Among them are the 1981 Canada Cup (Tretiak was dominant) and the 1987 Canada Cup (thrilling action, culminating in the Gretzky to Lemieux brilliance). In recent head-to-head action, the Russians have come out second best most often, owing to coaching decisions and (sometimes) a lack of defensive depth.
- Mike Babcock and Team Canada are at the top of their game, the reputation of the group has never been higher. There is an expectation of a win—but not only a win but rather a tidy, defensively brilliant 2-0 contest in which Team Russia finds it difficult to get into the Canadian zone. That is good news for Team Canada fans, but it also creates an atmosphere where an upset would be well remembered. Team Russia will rely heavily on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and the scoring of men like Alex Ovechkin and Vladimir Tarasenko.
- Canada comes in waves, but are led by a stunning group of forwards. Sidney Crosby will lead the way, Jonathan Toews will no doubt be brilliant, and Claude Giroux will sit—this team is drunk with ridiculous talent. The home teams is the overwhelming favourite, on merit.