Photo credit: STREETER LECKA/Getty Images
During yesterday's Canada/Finland game, CBC's Don Cherry showed images of the moorings used on the nets in Sochi. Those used in Team USA's game against Russia on Saturday shows how thin the moorings are. Cherry then said that if the moorings were thick, like they are in the NHL, the net would have likely never come off and there wouldn't be issue. But that's not how the situation panned out. Instead, US netminder Jonathan Quick is being cast in a dark light.
With the game tied 2-2 in the final few minutes of regulation, the Russians were pressing and Quick, being his over-aggressive self, went out of position in an attempt to stop the puck. Then, Quick rushed back into his net and on impact, inadvertently knocked his net off the moorings, but so mildly that no one noticed right away - not Quick, not his defensemen, not even the officials. But seconds later, Russian D-man Fedor Tyutin took a point shot that beat the American backstop. 3-2 Russia - or so most thought.
Immediately after the goal was scored, Quick looked back to see that his net was off, called attention to it and the officials huddled up before disallowing the goal. As a result, the game remained tied and Team USA ultimately won in the shootout.
But following the game, it took Quick's NHL teammate to get the pot boiling.
After his team's loss, Russia's Slava Voynov told reporter Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) of Quick's part in the disallowed goal saying, "I play with him. I know that's his style." The statement came across as an accusation to some but not to others who simply believed Voynov was pointing out what type of goaltender Quick is, not necessarily calling him a cheater. The context of said quote is unknown but if the reaction of some of Russian teammates are any indication, perhaps Voynov does have some harsh criticism for his Kings teammate.
Alex Ovechkin told the Chicago-Sun Times, "Nobody touched the net," but continued, "The goalie touched the net and pulled it out. But the referee didn’t give him two minutes.” A very interesting quote for a player who is infamously - and justifiably - regarded as one of the NHL's biggest underachievers come playoff time. Maybe that's why the one they dub "Alex the Great" celebrates so excessively after scoring a first-period goal - because he knows he can't deliver when it really matters, and that's where I'm going here.
The Russians can dwell on Saturday and blame Jonathan Quick all the want to but they just can't accept the fact that they lost when they had a plethora of chances to win. I seem to remember in the shootout when Ilya Kovalchuk scored, what was it, three times? Yet the Russians couldn't seal the victory because TJ Oshie kept scoring. Logic would dictate a netminder facing the same shooter ad nauseam would figure him out and make a save or two, especially when said shooter makes the same move and approaches the net at glacial speed. So, what do the Russians have to say about that? Conveniently nothing.
Also, what would they have to say aboout Jonathan Quick making 29 saves including crucial stops on the aforementioned, Evgeni Malkin and, in his last attempt in the shootout, Ilya Kovalchuk? Again, nothing.
Despite being grilled by the Russian media following his team's controversial loss, head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said, "“I do believe there was a mistake. But it’s our job to prepare for the next game.”
Unfortunately, the Russian players couldn't be as diplomatic as their coach.
“It’s very simple,” Ilya Kovalchuk said cryptically. “There are rules and everyone has to follow the rules.”
As far as I'm concerned, someone who possessed next to no humility like Kovalchuk does, should, quite frankly, keep his mouth shut. After all, if he really believes that, then he should say it directly to (New Jersey Devils GM) Lou Lamoriello who gave him a 17-year contract only to see it dishonored when the coward Russian fled back to his native land after serving just three of those 17 years.
During the 2001 World Juniors, I was given my first impression of Kovalchuk - and I despised him ever since.
Late in a game against Canada with the Russians up by a goal, the Canadians pulled their goalie. Then, Kovalchuk, who had barely crossed the red line with the puck, continuously pumped his arm over his head as if he had already scored. Had his opponent been the Philadelphia Flyers or Boston Bruins of the mid-1970's Ilya Kovalchuk would be eating food through a straw.
If Jonathan Quick were an unknown emergency starter, no one on the Russian team would be complaining. Instead, they'd be too busy scoring, showboating and showing everyone what world-class jackasses they are (with the exception of some, of course). But instead, they run into an elite netminder and when they can't beat him, they'll whine about him instead. It really is interesting, nay, amusing to see just how classless the Russians are when they don't get their way.
Despite the loss, however, Russia beat Slovakia the next day and while they don't get the bye into the quarter-final, their qualifying-round game will be against the last-seeded Norwegians on Tuesday.
As far as I'm concerned, Saturday's loss didn't expose Jonathan Quick or any of the Americans as cheaters. Instead. Saturday's loss exposed the Russians as sore losers and furthermore, a team that nearly everyone has since discovered isn't as good as they were made out to be.
Take your dollies and go home, Russia. Hockey's a sport of men, not boys.