WCOH SEMIFINAL 1: CANADA VS. RUSSIA

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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.

Broadcast Info

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.

Lineup Notes

Team Canada

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

Carey Price

Team Russia

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.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Won’t lie. I love Canada and some of my favourite highlights watching hockey involve Team Canada (World Cups, Canada Cups, Olympics – pre-pro and pro).

    But there is something I just don’t love about this tourney – maybe because this could be the first step to divorcing from the IOC.

    For the reason I am kinda cheering for the Russians…but if Canada wins tonight I’ll be happy to see them take the trophy.

    I believe this is a great tournament to cash in on the Olympics. No clue why it’s taken 8 and 12 years between other tournaments to cash in on all these substantial returns.

  • Gravis82

    I am no longer interested now that team NA is out. I can’t quite explain it, its not a conscience decision, but I literally don’t care if Team Canada wins or loses this tournament.

    • Greg

      As much as I liked team NA, I have to admit it’s starting to feel like Canada is too dominant in international tournaments now and it’s taking away from the anticipation a lot. I get into the games more when the competition is tighter and the anxiety level is higher.

      Next time, I’d like to see them nix team NA, and try replacing the 8th team with a 2nd Canadian Team. Canada East and Canada West. It’d give the US their kids back to bump them up, and pull Canada back to the pack a bit to make things more intense. Plus the prospect of a Canada East vs West playoff game would be pretty cool.

      • Chunkylover69@google.ca

        I hate to say it since I’m a western fella but that east team would be mighty good. Per capita talent wise we are solid but they have the numbers.

        • Greg

          That’s for sure… you’d have to move that East/West divide line up to Toronto to keep the numbers closer. Or nix Team Europe and do a Canada East (Quebec & Maritimes)/West(BC & Prairies)/Central (Ontario).

      • Tuba

        I really like the idea of a second Canadian team as well. East vs. West sounds like a good idea, but I’m wondering if it might be more interesting to see a Canadian “B” team. Let Babcock have first crack at his roster, and then get another group of coaches/managers together to decide on a second team. That would probably result in some really competitive hockey as the B team would almost certainly be playing with a huge chip on their shoulder. They might not win, but like team NA I bet they would be a lot more exciting and might be the cure for the apathy that I know a few Canadian fans are feeling about international tournaments these days.

        • Cageyvet

          A second Canadian team is often discussed, but it’s never going to happen. Which country will agree to giving Canada a second shot at the win, or even finish 1-2 depending on tournament structure? I don’t think so.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      What’s the ACC without business attire, empty seats during the first 15 minutes of a period while emptying for the 3rd and deal brokers brokering deals on the concourse in the lounges and clubs?

  • Howedy

    Also, those of you saying you’re not pulling for Canada in best on best international competition boggle my mind. If we were so dominant we would be like USA basketball, but it’s nothing like that. I’m not crazy on the tournament format either, but I can’t see cheering for NA just because Johnny is on the team. Maybe an age thing, but I remember when we were questioning our international dominance. It was a huge problem to the point where we were looking at our minor hockey player development. We win a few and now it’s taken for granted? Not caring if Canada beats Russia is just plain weird to me. Anyways, thumbs down away lol

    • Randaman

      I’m not really against Canada but I hate how their teams are picked. Loyalty over smarts. If they have been there in the past and won, they get picked. Getzlaff, Boumeester, Perry, come on man

      Youth needs to be groomed at these high level events

    • Gravis82

      I don’t think anyone said they are not pulling for Canada. Not pulling for Canada carries a differential connotation that you may in fact be pulling for something else. Which is not true right now as the tournament stands. It was true absolutely when team NA was in it, I was pulling for them. But right now I am not pulling for anyone. I do not wish them to lose, but I don’t really care if they win either. Because I am not exactly sure what they are winning? There is no meaning behind victory in this tournament. I guess that is because its new, and as fans we are affected very little emotionally by the results, which could change with increasing iterations over time. The opinions you are referring to can be more accurately categorized as indifference.

      I also think the younger generations are increasingly less nationalistic, which is a good thing in my opinion. We are all in this world thing together.

  • calgaryfan

    never had any interest in Bettman’s cash grab tournament.The sooner the little man with the huge ego retires the better. I hope people turn off their TV’s to show Bettman his tournament is a joke.

  • PlayDirty

    It’s not like we’re sacrificing that much quality by being loyal. Couture, O’Reilly, Duchene, Muzzin are getting their shots and the young guys are getting experience through the NA team. There’s no need to turn over the entire team.

    Let’s try not to sound like a bunch of arrogant pr!cks. “Too dominant”??????

      • PlayDirty

        I’m just saying there is some turnover and would likely have been more without TNA.

        Arrogant wasn’t you – that’s about the “too dominant” comment earlier.

        Me thinks a few people weren’t around when we haven’t been as dominant. Those sh!tty times are what makes the good times so much better.

        • Greg

          Not sure when stating facts became arrogance. 3 Gold from 5 Olympics, and we’re currently up 5-2 on Russia in a tournament where we’ve quadrupled the goal differential of the next closest team.

          It’s not like the tournaments are a gimme, but we’re heavily favoured going into everyone of them, and it isn’t even close – every player and fan from every country would say Canada is the clear favourite at the start.