Lining up a classic

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

QUEBEC CITY -- Alexander Ovechkin was six years old when Russia won its most recent gold medal at the world hockey championship.

"I didn't like hockey when I was six," he said.

That was is 1993. Some 15 years later, it is Canada versus Russia for the gold medal today and the world has been able to see this game coming since the beginning of the tournament.

"Everybody wants this match," said Ovechkin, the current No. 1 superstar of the sport.

There is a lot of focus on the two big lines in this game: Rick Nash, Dany Heatley and Ryan Getzlaf for Canada, and Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Sergei Fedorov for Russia.

"I don't think about our line in this one," said Ovechkin. "It's about our team right now. It's about history now. Everybody is excited about Canada-Russia now. It's exactly what everybody expected and can't wait until it gets started.

"It's the final game of the world championship. It's a great opportunity for us to beat a great team and people in Russia want us to win."

Until Ovechkin showed up after practice here yesterday, the Russians were being Russians as we used to know them. They weren't going to send any of their players out to talk to the media on the eve of the gold-medal game.

Coach Vyacheslav Bykov, who coached in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, spoke only briefly and only in French.

"These are the two countries people care about," he said of the first Canada-Russia gold medal match in the tournament since the IIHF went to the format in 1992, one year before the Russians won their only world championship of the post-Soviet Union era.

"This is the final everybody has been talking about."

Asked about stopping Canada's big line, Bykov responded by saying only that "they have to worry about stopping our lines, too."

Canada's big line has scored 20 goals in this tournament, but Semin was not concerned.

"Look at our line -- the Washington Caps line," he said of the Russian trio which has 15 goals in the tourney (Ovechkin six, Fedorov five and Semin four).

Alexander Radulov agreed.

"Those three (Canadian) guys, we're going to have to find a way to stop them," he said. "But we have lines that can score, too. Our top line plays together in Washington. They have confidence together. They have everything. I don't want to say it's easy, but we'll see what happens.

"It's always fun between these two teams. It's going to be great. There's going to be a lot of excitement Both teams have great players."


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