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.”
Feb 28, 2015, 12:07 AM EST
Lost to Carolina on Friday.
Feb 27, 2015, 11:17 PM EST
He was traded from Philadelphia to Chicago on Friday.
Feb 27, 2015, 10:34 PM EST
Meanwhile, Calgary’s playoff hopes take another hit.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:56 PM EST
Important win for Boston.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:37 PM EST
Feb 27, 2015, 9:19 PM EST
Should be interesting.
Feb 27, 2015, 8:31 PM EST
Another day, another trade.
Feb 27, 2015, 8:25 PM EST
Pascal Dupuis recently opened up about his condition.
Feb 27, 2015, 7:30 PM EST
The Habs host the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Feb 27, 2015, 6:37 PM EST
That’s according to multiple reports.
Feb 27, 2015, 6:28 PM EST
Trade deadline is Monday, by the way.
Feb 27, 2015, 5:25 PM EST
Was aiming to play Saturday versus the Rangers.
Feb 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EST
GM Doug Wilson has some decisions to make…
Feb 27, 2015, 3:17 PM EST
So says NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
Feb 27, 2015, 3:04 PM EST
Some recommended reading to pass along.
Feb 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
Incident occurred during last night’s San Jose-Detroit game.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:53 PM EST
Were dominated by the Red Wings for the final two periods of last night’s loss.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:46 PM EST
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Feb 27, 2015, 1:35 PM EST
Could it keep him from getting moved by Monday?
Feb 27, 2015, 12:48 PM EST
“If we can’t get up emotionally for that game, then I think we have to take a deeper look at ourselves.”
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- Breaking: Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 20
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Burgled: Sens’ Hammond shuts out Kings 14
- Wild get important win vs. Preds (and some luck, too) 41
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs 66
- Panthers acquire Jagr from Devils 29
- Trotz doesn’t see a ‘big, sexy, difference-maker guy’ on the market 17
- What’s up with the reports of problems in the Blackhawks’ room? 40
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- ‘I don’t know why we’re so comfortable,’ says Toews after loss to Avalanche (69)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)