January 4, 2011
Can Russia do it again?
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
BUFFALO -- Oh, those pesky Ruskies.
In knock-out round victories over both Finland and Sweden, the Russians used late-game heroics to catch their opponents off-guard.
Can the comeback kids do it again?
Here's a look at what it will take for each team to capture gold in Wednesday's Canada-Russia championship tilt at the HSBC Arena.
CANADA WINS IF ...:
1. There is no emotional hangover from that riveting 4-1 semifinal victory over the Americans Monday, sweet revenge for the U.S. championship game win over Canada last year.
2. They feed off the electricity in the building, which will be stuffed with 18,000 red-and-white clad Canadian fans.
3. Brayden Schenn continues his assault on the record books. He needs just two points to tie Dale McCourt's 1977 mark of 18 in a single world junior tournament.
4. They are not swelled with overconfidence after beating this same Russian side 6-3 in the tournament opener for both teams back on Boxing Day.
5. They duplicate the fierce forecheck exhibited against the Americans right from the opening faceoff.
RUSSIA WINS IF ...:
1. The Canadians become too emotional and physically try to muscle the Russians through the boards, thereby earning stupid penalties. Are you listening, Zack Kassian?
2. They play with the same heart that produced late-game heroics in their past two outings, resulting in teary-eyed players with their arms draped around each other singing the Russian national anthem.
3. They can get an early goal and take the deafening pro-Canadian throng at the HSBC Arena out of the game, as temporary as that might be. While he has been steady, Canadian goalie Mark Visentin has not faced a lot of rubber to date.
4. Goalie Dmitri Shikin stands on his head. He might not have a choice, especially in the first 10 minutes when Canada is expected to come at him in waves.
5. The dangerous Yevgeni Kuznetsov can find the time and space to create scoring opportunities. Kuznetsov is tied with Canada's Ryan Johansen for the most shots on goal in the tournament, with 29 through six games.