Sochi Preview: Russia vs. Norway; Voynov (Feb.18/14; 4:30am PST)
Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
After the controversy surrounding their loss to the United States on Saturday, there really is no choice but for Team Russia to win their qualifying round matchup against Norway on Tuesday. Of course, given that the Norwegians are both winless and seeded last entering the qualifying round, the Russians shouldn't have any trouble on Tuesday.
Since their talked-about loss to the US on Saturday, Russia did beat Slovakia on Sunday to wrap up their preliminary schedule. However, they won by a 1-0 score - and the only goal(s) were scored in the shootout. While Jan Laco did his part in providing solid goaltending for Slovakia, Russia's difficulty putting the puck in the net was a concern on Sunday. Hopefully for them, it won't be one on Tuesday.
Had they won on Saturday, Russia would most likely have the bye into the quarter-final instead of Team USA. Instead, they must play and win to get into said quarter-final where Finland await them or Norway.
While a matchup against Norway looks and sounds easy, Team Russia must once and for all shake off the cobwebs of Saturday's aftermath and focus on the task at hand. After all, it may seem too easy not to overlook a team as flawed as the Norwegians but sometimes, it's just that that leads the underdog to victory.
It may happen but don't count on it.
Enjoy the game!