Feb 11, 2014, 2:00 AM EST
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.”
Dec 21, 2014, 1:18 AM EST
Christopher Tanev scored the overtime winner on his birthday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:33 AM EST
Vancouver reported its holding him out of the rest of the game for precautionary reasons.
Dec 20, 2014, 11:51 PM EST
Minnesota has won five of its last 13 games.
Dec 20, 2014, 11:20 PM EST
They had pulled their goaltender on a delayed penalty.
Dec 20, 2014, 11:05 PM EST
Stamkos hopes this loss will serve as a wake up call.
Dec 20, 2014, 10:43 PM EST
Ray Emery certainly got a lot of offensive help with Steve Mason out.
Dec 20, 2014, 10:17 PM EST
Montreal beat Ottawa 4-1.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:55 PM EST
It’s the third time this month New Jersey has been goalless.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:35 PM EST
Calvin Pickard had another great game.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:08 PM EST
It’s been a heated game between Pittsburgh and Florida.
Dec 20, 2014, 8:06 PM EST
It set a franchise record for both teams.
Dec 20, 2014, 7:20 PM EST
Carlyle’s been unhappy with his “very erratic” play.
Dec 20, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
They’ve combined for 13 points in the Kings’ last two games.
Dec 20, 2014, 6:11 PM EST
He might get that opportunity this weekend.
Dec 20, 2014, 5:24 PM EST
He might shatter some career-highs this season.
Dec 20, 2014, 5:09 PM EST
He’s shooting for Dec. 27 against Boston.
Dec 20, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
Larsson went to the AHL on a conditioning assignment.
Dec 20, 2014, 3:27 PM EST
Saturday’s slew of starting goalies.
Dec 20, 2014, 2:35 PM EST
Tampa Bay’s top goalie faced shots this morning.
Dec 20, 2014, 1:22 PM EST
Good luck trying to forecast their lines for Saturday.
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- Ovechkin scores beauty as Caps shutout Devils 3
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- Julien chides Bruins’ offense for too many cute plays 39
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- Flyers’ Mason tweaked back, will miss weekend games 10
- Gordie Howe makes ‘amazing’ recovery following stem cell treatment in Mexico 15
- Video: Penguins’ spoof of ‘Christmas Vacation’ is pretty good 18
- Mason hurt, helped off ice at end of Flyers practice 8