You can thank Ryan Miller, Brian Rafalski and the rest of Team USA for waking up Canada. Specifically, Thomas Griess, Evgeni Nabakov and Team Russia can thank the USA.

Canada has potted 15 goals in two games and are on a collision course with the gold medal game. Unless there is some serious line matching going on for the Slovakia/Canada semi-final, it looks as if the hosts will be playing for gold come Sunday.

Let me preface that with a scolding to the Russians. For years people have said the Russians don’t show up in big games, and that they only play well when it doesn’t really matter. Well, they certainly proved that to be true today. Alex Ovechkin & Co. were dominated by the Canadians for 60 minutes today.

It started at the top, or bottom I guess. Evgeni Nabakov – who, in my opinion, is the reason San Jose never makes it out of the second round – was awful today. He wasn’t bad, he wasn’t victimized by a bad team in front of him, he was just plain awful. Only the first goal of the game could not be placed on him, the others he surrendered, on his shoulders. Ilya Bryzgalov, who should have been the Russian starter, was mediocre in relief, although he suffered from the same shooting gallery that Nabokov did.

Then there was the suspect Russian defense. The group of eight that I thought was the key to an early tournament exit for the Reds. Today they were bad as well. Dmitri Kalinin scored a nice goal but he and Anton Volchenkov were unimpressive. Not to mention the train-wreck that was the Dennis Grebeshkov-Konstantin Korneyev pairing. Those two make Mike Wilson look like a Norris winner. Overall, the Russian defense was bad, and they paid for it in spades.

Last, but not least, are the Russian forwards. Alex Ovechkin, the best player in the world for my money, was a ghost. Kudos to Mike Babcock and Lindy Ruff for cooking up the scheme to shut down Ovie. The Ovechkin line (Ovie-Malkin-Semin) saw Shea Weber and Scott Neidermayer every time they stepped on the ice. Also, Brendan Morrow, Rick Nash and Jonathon Towes were the line match for the Ovechkin trio.

Ovie actually played on three lines. When it was evident that Malkin was useless as his center, Sergei Fedorov was moved between Ovie and Semin. Then, when Semin decided to dog it Malkin was placed on the wing. Obviously none of these combos worked. But, Malkin and Semin were the two biggest duds for the Russians. Aside from a third period breakaway, which he missed, Malkin was a ghost today. As for Semin, he contributed nothing until a monster hit on Dan Boyle late in the game.

Semin’s hit upset Boyle to the point where he decided to slew-foot the Caps winger. How he didn’t get a game for that is beyond me. It was one of the dirtiest, most blatant slew foots I have ever seen. Realistically, Boyle should sit for the Slovakia game.

I give kudos to Ryan Getzlaf for chirping Malkin from the bench after he missed his breakaway. No team that plays that disinterested deserves to skate away with out a ton of chirping.

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