Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Russians get spanked by Canada; USA advances to semis, faces Mikko Koivu and Finland

Posted by: Michael Russo under Olympic hockey Updated: February 24, 2010 - 11:31 PM

Ilya Bryzgalov said it all after this one: The Canadians "came out like gorillas out of a cage."

He added that this would be treated like a "disaster" in Russia, "End of the world. We had to push back, but we didn't. I expected much more from these Olympic Games."

There's no way around this. In sportswriting, we often exaggerate things or throw out words, like, "embarrass," too liberally.

This was a humiliation like few I've covered. Russia was supposed to challenge for gold. But nothing was stopping the Canadians in this game, especially in front of this electric crowd. They trashed Russia 7-3 and now have 29 goals in five games.

The US was able to take Canada's crowd out of the game 41 seconds in the other day, and they never let Canada have the lead. That would not be the case tonight for Russia. Canada scored early and kept coming, and the crowd kept getting louder and louder. Russia never matched the intensity, was lazy, almost disinterested defensively, which maybe shouldn't be a shock. The Russians are incredible offensively, but the players brought here are usually not interested on the defensive side of the puck.

They couldn't clear big Candians forward out from in front of the goalies, they were outmuscled all over the ice.

Not that it would have made all the difference, but Russia wanted to prove a point by snubbing some talented NHLers and bringing about eight or nine KHLers. They were slow and a non-factor all tourney, minus-13 tonight.

Their coach was outcoached all tournament, going with groups of five stubbornly. Until tonight, I didn't even know Andrei Markov was in the tournament. Tonight, I definitely knew because he was brutal. And even though the chances were Grade A tonight, not pulling Nabokov after 1 period when the Russians were down 4-1 was just ridiculous.

"Everything failed," Slava Bykov said afterward.

The Russians were a bunch of babies after the game. Guys like Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Malkin stormed by us in a huff. Pavel Datsyuk, always classy, talked twice. Markov and both goalies stopped and talked. Ovechkin came back to do TV, then talked in Russian briefly with the Russian reporters. Ovechkin, trying to sell everybody on 2014 in Sochi, acted like this all tournament -- just blowing off the English media other than one AP sitdown at the Russia House.

And this is a guy who is lauded and lauded by the hockey media all the time.

One would hope he was just upset with his effort tonight because he floated all over the ice. The second Perry goal, look at the replay and that shameful effort by Ovechkin.

Canada was just the much better team tonight, and as Nabokov said afterward, "They are not going to be easy to stop, I'll tell you that."

Fans began taunting Ovechkin with "Ovi, Ovi" all third period. When he was struck by a Jonathan Toews shot, he hurt his hand. When they showed a pained Ovechkin on the jumbotron, the taunts got louder. Players fed off that. Ryan Getzlaf, after Evgeni Malkin missed on a breakaway, stood up on the bench while Malkin stood at the blue line and stuck his face in Malkin's ear and began talking smack. Malkin understandably elbowed Getzlaf in the face.

Later, after talking a late hit from Alex Semin, Dan Boyle disgustingly slew-footed Semin in retaliation, one that should be reviewed by the IOC. Unbelievably dangerous. Semin fell backward on his back.

As for the USA's 2-0 win over Switzerland, dominant performance by the US, but Jonas Hiller almost stole one. If not for Prior Lake's Zach Parise, he just might have. Parise scored two, the last on an empty netter, as the Americans outshot the Swiss 44-19.

Parise was tremendous, but so were several of the defensemen, from Ryan Suter to Erik and Jack Johnson, who were stalwarts and bravely dropped down in front of slapshots.

It was a very entertaining game, if not frustrating because no matter how many pucks the Americans fired at Hiller, he was there to turn them away. Parise finally broke through with a redirected goal off a Brian Rafalski shot early in the third.

You can read the gamer in the paper because I wrote much more on that game than the Canada game. But the US moves on to play Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen, Niklas Backstrom and the Finns in the semifinals Friday at 2 p.m. Finland sent Marek Zidlicky and Martin Havlat and the Czechs home minutes ago with a 2-0 win.

I am going to run now and watch this Sweden-Slovakia game. Like I said, for much more on the US game, check out the newspaper.

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