Photo credit: Jean Levac/Postmedia News
From the beginning of the Soviet Union to the Winter War to countless on-ice battles, it is safe to say that Russia and Finland have been through it all together. On Wednesday, another chapter will be added to the rivalry as these two nations will fight it out for a spot in the men's semi-final.
Since losing to the US on Saturday, Russia has gone 2-0-0 - but they haven't exactly put on an offensive clinic. On Sunday, they needed a shootout to beat Slovakia 1-0 and then held just a 2-0 against Norway on Tuesday before scoring two late goals with the game all but over.
Entering their quarter-final match with Finland on Wednesday, Alex Radulov enters as the hottest Russian having scored twice in his country's win over Norway in the qualifying round. But outside of Radulov, the Russian guns have been silent. Neither Ovechkin or Malkin have scored and since his two-goal output on Saturday, Pavel Dastyuk has been, for all intents and purposes, missing in action. They will need to change that drastically against a defensively-skilled Finnish squad.
Speaking of that defensively-skilled Finnish squad, they scored a tournament-high 15 goals during the preliminary round. Plus, along with veterans like Teemu Selanne and Olli Jokinen helping out, Olli Maatta and Sami Vatanen have been contributing nicely as well. But they'll have to bring their A-game on Wednesday against a netminder as solid as Sergei Bobrovsky. Or perhaps the Russians will go with Semyon Varlamov. Either way, they have plenty of strength between the pipes.
As for Finland in net, they have Kari Lehtonen and Tuukka Rask but will most likely go with the former in this one.
There has never been any love lost between the Russians and the Finns. Wednesday should prove to be no different.
Enjoy the game!