Photo credit: Julio Cortez/AP
While most are calling Finland's win over Russia an upset, I disagree. After all, despite being overlooked in what feels like every tournament, whether it's the Olympics, World Juniors or World Championships, Finland is always able to put one of the best teams out there. On Wednesday morning, they proved that, defeating the host Russians 3-1, eliminating them from the men's tournament.
After taking an undisciplined interference penalty away from the play, Ilya Kovalchuk was lucky that Finland wasn't able to score. Luckily for the former NHLer, he scored a little later to put the host country out in front. But the Russians had little time to enjoy their lead.
Just 1:27 later, the Finns won a crucial faceoff in the offensive zone before Juhamatti Aalotonen drove to the net and knocked it past netminder Semyon Varlamov to knot the game up. But before the first period was over, it was Finland's oldest player making the biggest impact as Teemu Selanne notched is second in this his sixth Olympiad to give Finland their first lead of the game - one they would not relinquish.
Early in the second, Russian defenseman Alexei Yemelin was sent to the box for tripping Lauri Korpikoski. Unfortunately for Yemelin, he not only received a penalty but a cut on his lip as the stick of Korpikoski hit him while the Finn was falling to the ice. Worse, the Finns capitalized on their man-advantage as Mikael Granlund notched his third tally of the tournament to give Finland some insurance.
While they were still trailing by a pair late, the Russians were on the power play and pressing to pull the game to within one and ultimately tie it. Netminder Tuukka Rask, however, was having none of it. The Boston backstop brought his A-game on this day as he made 37 saves, including a few over-aggressive attempts by the Russians, to preserve the win.
Game, set, match: Finland.
As for the Russians, players felt no emotion after the game, instead feeling empty and despondant.
While Alex Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk have both been productive, what's most noteworthy in regards to Team Russia aside from their loss to the US on Saturday was the play (or lack thereof) of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, neither of which scored the entire tournament.
Speaking of Saturday's loss, Wednesday's defeat should pave the way for conspiracy theorists to start ranting what could have been again.
As for the representative of the Los Angeles Kings, I am certainly sorry to see Slava Voynov finish these Olympics without a medal. With that said, they simply lost to the better team who will now prepare for a semi-final matchup with rival Sweden on Friday.