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.”
Apr 2, 2015, 1:20 AM EDT
Big win for San Jose.
Apr 2, 2015, 1:04 AM EDT
Apr 2, 2015, 12:46 AM EDT
Easily handled the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Apr 2, 2015, 12:16 AM EDT
Looked like a sure goal.
Apr 1, 2015, 11:45 PM EDT
That’s bad defending.
Apr 1, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT
Pittsburgh lost to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Apr 1, 2015, 10:50 PM EDT
Started off well for Pittsburgh, but got worse from there.
Apr 1, 2015, 10:12 PM EDT
Both desperately need wins to stay alive in playoff race.
Apr 1, 2015, 9:54 PM EDT
Apr 1, 2015, 9:23 PM EDT
It’s been a while.
Apr 1, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
He’s having a “down year,” apparently.
Apr 1, 2015, 8:18 PM EDT
Red Wings forward reflects on Tuesday’s scary skate cut incident.
Apr 1, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
Just 12 forwards, and five defensemen.
Apr 1, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT
“It was vicious, and it deserves to be penalized.”
Apr 1, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT
Kings defenseman also suffered a ruptured Achilles.
Apr 1, 2015, 6:38 PM EDT
Catch the game on NBCSN, or with NBCSports.com’s Live Extra.
Apr 1, 2015, 6:13 PM EDT
He’ll play on a line with Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes.
Apr 1, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT
Has been playing in Finland this season.
Apr 1, 2015, 4:48 PM EDT
Click for all the odds.
Apr 1, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT
Certainly better than they were in February.
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