Photo credit: NBCSN
The term "speak of the devil" came into good practice this morning.
With five of the six Los Angeles Kings being productive in Sochi, whether it was a natural hat-trick or a goal in a game that was already a rout, the sixth hasn't been effective since returning to his home country. Defenseman Slava Voynov has been quiet thus far but he did make some noise this morning, albeit not in the way fans of the silver-and-black would be proud of.
En route to Team USA's epic shootout win over Russia, the host country scored late to take a crucial lead. Unfortunately, the goal was called back as the net was knocked off its moorings. Regulation expired as did overtime and the Americans won in a marathon shootout. End of story. Right? Not according to Voynov who, with that he said, could have Jonathan Quick for knocking the net off its moorings.
Dmitry Chesnokov, a member of the Hockey Writers Association, full-time writer for Puck Daddy and a contributor to TSN, tweeted the following:
@dchesnokov "Voynov on Quick dislodging the net before the Tyutin disallowed goal: 'I play with him. I know that's his style.' #USAvRUS"
What kind of comment is that?
Jonathan Quick was positioned far out of his net and had to scramble back to his crease to keep the game tied. As he slid over to cover the left side of his net, said net was dislodged ever so slightly - so slightly that the on-ice officials, and even Quick himself, failed to notice, which led to Fedor Tyutin's goal. It was once Tyutin scored when Quick noticed the issue, pointing to it hoping the referees would disallow the goal. Skeptics can say anything they want about Quick's tactics but desperate times called for desperate measures and when a team trails late to a squad as explosive as the Russians are, they will do whatever is necessary (within any type of ethical code) to stop something if it looks even the tiniest bit awry. After all, not noticing the net coming off its moorings is the responsibility of the officials and not the goaltender. Had the officials noticed, the play would have been blown dead, Tyutin would have never scored and there wouldn't be any controversy as a result. But, as we all saw, it doesn't always work out that way.
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that I do understand Slava Voynov's frustration. What he said could have easily been said in the heat of the moment while the feeling of the marathon loss was still fresh. If that is the case, I can certainly respect that to a large extent. What I can't respect is that Voynov actually implied Quick to be a cheater when all the American backstop did was bump into the net on impact from having to rush back into the net. Had this happened in the NHL, Tyutin's goal likely would have stood (although I could be wrong). But that is the territory that comes with the Olympics. In addition to adapting to a larger ice surface, NHLers, like it or not, must adapt to a few rule changes along the way. The Russians got the short end of the stick and the Americans were blessed with a lucky break.
But it's not as if the Americans completely took over the game once the goal was called back. While they did have their chances to win the game, Team Russia had just as many, including three different opportunities to win in the shootout. Perhaps the blame can put on the shoulders of Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk for not being as invincible as they're hyped - and both players did enough to win their country the game anyway. Better yet, why not blame netminder Sergei Bobrovsky for not figuring out TJ Oshie after so many shots? Those theories don't make a lot of sense and that of blaming Quick doesn't either as far as I'm concerned.
I do understand the territory that comes with NHLers participating in the Olympics. Teammates in North America are suddenly opponents in different circumstances and there are rivalries that quickly surface as a result. There was some mild animosity between Drew Doughty and then-King Jack Johnson four years ago. Despite playing in Vancouver, American Ryan Kesler made his anti-Canadian feelings known during the same Olympian. But for Voynov to blame Quick and then imply that he's a cheater is uncalled for. I certainly hope that wasn't the Russian D-man's intention.
His frustration from losing a close game aside, Slava Voynov may have forgotten that he would not even have a Stanley Cup ring if it wasn't for Jonathan Quick. While in no way am I taking anything away from Voynov in terms of his talent and his contributions to the Los Angeles Kings, I would be very disappointed that he would say such things about his teammate if he, in fact, meant to imply that he cheated his way towards the no-goal.
As I previously mentioned, the Russians had an ample amount of opportunities to take control of the game, even before the controversial no-goal. The host nation was blessed with a number of power plays (many of which, mind you, came from questionable calls) but they only scored on the power play once despite all the talent they have up front. So, who's fault is it? No one's. The end result came because Team USA was just that good and on Saturday morning, they just wanted the win a little more than the Russians did. Simple.
When Team Russia scores, their players go insane even if it is a first-period tally. If they lose, they cry. While it may be unfair to generalize as not all Russians are like that (see Pavel Datsyuk), Voynov proved that being cast in such a negative light is sadly quite accurate. I sincerely hope Voynov does not fall in this category.
This was the first meeting between USA and Russia at this tournament and it may not be the last. If it isn't the last, Slava Voynov may want to be careful before saying anything else. After all, his other Kings teammate donning the right, white and blue is one of the heaviest hitters in the game.
Voynov plays with Dustin Brown; he knows that's his style.