VIENNA -- In the world hockey championship quarter-finals, two of the four games were decided by a shootout.
Today, when Canada plays Russia in a semi-final, a shootout once again is a strong possibility.
Considering the way the Russians embarrassed goalie Niklas Backstrom in their 4-3 shootout victory over Finland in their quarter-final matchup Thursday, that could be an ominous proposition for Canadian fans. Then again, Niklas Backman is no Martin Brodeur.
When Brodeur was on a promotional tour of Europe last December, he faced the top five Russian shooters in a skills competition and stopped them all.
At the other end, the Canadians have some superb shooters of their own. They are not saying who was on the tentative list that was drawn up for the quarter-final game against Slovakia, and today's list -- which likely will be identical -- has not yet been determined.
But according to an informal poll of the players, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Rick Nash are automatic. Simon Gagne, meanwhile, is highly likely.
The fifth shooter sparked some debate, but Patrick Marleau, Brendan Morrison, Ryan Smyth and Shane Doan all are candidates. Smyth probably will get the nod because he is the captain and he has a reputation for coming through in this tournament.
Under International Ice Hockey Federation rules, if the game is tied after a 10-minute four-on-four overtime, the result is determined by a shootout.
The Canadians watched the Russian shootout on Thursday and were impressed. But they feel that they too have some great shooters and a further advantage.
As one said, "Who would you rather have in your net for a shootout? Maxim Sokholov or Marty?"