Feb 11, 2014, 2:00 AM EDT
Four years ago, it was the Canadian hockey team dealing with the expectation and pressure of an entire nation on its shoulder.
Now, with the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the Russian hockey team is in a similar situation, although one could argue it’s even more magnified for the host squad this time around.
Canadian forward Jonathan Toews, who transformed into a pivotal member of Canada’s gold-medal team in Vancouver, has no problem recalling the pressures of playing on home ice in the Olympics and the anxious energy that can provide.
“Oh, yeah. I remember the first practice, pucks were flying off my stick,” Toews told Bruce Arthur of Canada.com’s 2014 Winter Olympics coverage. “I was nervous. I was excited. It was a pretty amazing thing to be there, at that age and have that chance.
“The Russians have a little more pressure, this time. I’d say that pressure’s still on us, but you don’t feel it as much. You don’t see everything on TV, you don’t have trouble going to sleep at night because you can hear Vancouver just buzzing all night. So we know that’s there, but it’s easier to block it out and just focus on hockey, because you’re not experiencing it firsthand.”
The Russians are certainly aware of the expectations on them, especially after losing in the quarter-final to Canada in the 2010 Games. They’ve had four years to think about it; for that memory to linger.
“I think our players, they have good experience,” said Russia’s head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. “I don’t think they will feel bad, I mean will feel big pressure. They’re strong players, good players. I think they’re OK.”
But there are also some injury issues, especially with Pavel Datsyuk, who has played twice for the Detroit Red Wings since the Winter Classic.
“He’s probably been preparing for this tournament for five or six years when it was announced that it was coming to Russia,” Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland said recently of Datsyuk. “I’m sure if he couldn’t play, he won’t play.
“Is he 100 percent? Probably not, but there are probably other players in this tournament who aren’t 100 percent.”
Oct 21, 2014, 10:17 PM EDT
No call on that play.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT
It’s gone from bad to worse for Vancouver.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
Happened on an innocent enough play.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:29 PM EDT
Outplayed Philly big time in first period.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:07 PM EDT
Bet that felt good.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:27 PM EDT
Thought to be in against Chicago, but no.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT
NHL Insider analyzes what the future has in store for the L.A. defenseman.
Oct 21, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT
Check it out via the NBC Live Extra stream.
Oct 21, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT
“Nathan is a frustrated kid right now. He’s in constant pain.”
Oct 21, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT
After watching the first five games of the season from the press box.
Oct 21, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
‘Canes the only winless team in the league.
Oct 21, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
For example, a really tough upcoming schedule. (But also goaltending and that defense.)
Oct 21, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT
“It’s adversity for us but we’re going to come through it,” says Jarrett Stoll.
Oct 21, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Oct 21, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
“I don’t think there’s any question that we’re behind what the league has done.”
Oct 21, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT
Click to hear what those “values” entailed.
Oct 21, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT
Former Coyote faces his former team tonight.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT
Still no timeline for his return.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:24 PM EDT
Could Devan Dubnyk take a run at Mike Smith’s job?
Oct 21, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT
Pretty strong vote of confidence right there.
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