What would a global hockey championship be without at least one Canada-Russia game?
The Russians invited themselves to a semi-final showdown with the Canadians tonight by dumping the Czechs at Scotiabank Place last night.
It was a one-goal game going into the third period, until Columbus Blue Jackets first-rounder Nikita Filatov scored and Evgeni Grachev made it 3-0 by scoring with his team two-men short.
The team which lost 5-0 to Sweden on Wednesday thinks they can pull it off tonight.
"Of course, why not?" Filatov said when asked if Russia can beat Canada. "Right now, we don't think about (tonight's) game. We are five minutes from the ice (and beating the Czechs). Everybody is happy.
"Everybody (in the building) will want Canada to win, but I don't think that will be against us. It will help us to concentrate more. I think we will be prepared, I hope."
The Russians are a very, very quick and skilled team. Canada's big defencemen should have their hands full containing them.
Also, the Russians appear to discourage easily.
While Canada advanced to the semis with a stirring comeback against the U.S., the Russians appeared to completely give up when they fell behind early vs. the Swedes. All that was missing was Bob Cole's "They're going home, Harry" call and a white flag.
Canada should be able to extend its dominance of the Russians tonight. But they're going to have to catch them to beat them.
STARTS AND STOPS: The Swedish team spent New Year's Eve at a restaurant, chewing on steak and watching the Canada-U.S. classic on TV. Magnus Svensson Paajarvi noticed that the Canadians didn't defecate in their drawers upon trailing 3-0. "That was a sick game," the fine Swedish prospect said yesterday. "The first period was really good. (Canada) came back (from) 0-3 ... an unbelievable effort by them. That was fun to watch, a fun game." Svensson Paajarvi, who should be a Top 10 pick at next June's NHL entry draft, drew attention to himself earlier in the tournament both by his fine play and a comment that if Sweden ever put Canada in an early hole, the home team would panic. "We have huge confidence right now. Everybody believes we can win every game," said Svensson Paajarvi. "I know Canada is always Canada. You could just watch the game against the States, and see they always come back. Unbelievable goals by them. If we face Canada in the final, we've got to watch out." .... Senators first-rounder Jim O'Brien took four of the 47 shots fired at Slovakia goalie Jaroslav Janus yesterday. "We just tried to throw pucks at him," said O'Brien. "The dam wouldn't break tonight." ... The fans mocked U.S. goalie Thomas McCollum, a first-round pick of the Red Wings, almost every time he made an easy save after giving up three goals on Slovakia's first seven shots. People in Ottawa sure know their bad goaltending.
BETWEEN PERIODS: If you thought Daniel Alfredsson might have called Sweden's Erik Karlsson between flights from Edmonton and to Toronto, it didn't happen. "I haven't checked my phone, I don't think he has my number even," Karlsson said yesterday. "I haven't seen him so far." ... Asked if he had learned anything about Ottawa in the last week or so that he didn't didn't already know, Karlsson didn't hesitate ... "It's pretty cold here," the Senators first-rounder said. "I didn't expect it to be so cold. I knew there was going to be a lot of snow, but it's a bit colder than I thought." When it was pointed out that he could have been drafted by Florida, Phoenix or Los Angeles, Karlsson said no thanks. "Yeah I know, but this is a great place for me I think," he said. "It's similar to home, and I love it back in Sweden. I think I'm going to love it here, too." ... The Americans did not get the bounces yesterday. Early, they hit posts and had pucks bounce over their sticks when an empty net was calling. One of the best saves of the day was made by Slovak forward Milan Kytnar, who stoned Drayson Bowman when Janus was caught out of the crease.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: If the Senators were picking first overall and the draft was today, director of hockey operations Brent Flahr says he'd push for the team to pick John Tavares over Victor Hedman. "Right now," qualified Flahr, "but if Hedman shows what he was last year ... Tavares is a star. The goal he scored the other night, there's a couple of guys in the world who can do that." ... Admit it. When the Slovaks leave Scotiabank Place for good, don't you kinda wish they forget to take Janus with them? He might be able to help your Senators .... To put a twist on an old joke, I went to watch hockey and a soccer game broke out. Biggest divers yesterday were Janus and American Danny Kristo, a Habs prospect ... TSN's Pierre McGuire mentioned that a Slovak upset of the Americans would be "their 1980." When the upset was complete, the Slovaks reacted like they had just performed a Miracle on Ice. "That was a dream, that was fun," said forward Marek Viedensky. "It is best for my country." In the victorious dressing room, Viedensky described the scene as sheer jubiliation. "It was very happy," he said. "We were loud, we jumped. It was happy."