Bring on the Russians!

February 23, 2010 | Paul Hoke

On Sunday night, around 10 pm, I was at work watching the final minutes of the United States’ thrilling 5-3 win over Team Canada in an Olympic Group A matchup. I turned to a good friend of mine, who is also a big hockey and Capitals fan, and I didn’t even have to say a word. We were both thinking the same thing…..bring on them Russians!!!

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of a sloppy USA defense going up against a first Russian line of Ovechkin, Semin, and Malkin scares the you know what out of me. But, I can’t help but think…bring em on.

I guess that’s the American in me. The classic underdog who wants to face the best of the best. And make no mistake, Russia is the most talented team in the Olympic tournament. They’re bigger, stronger, and faster then most, but I think out of all the teams, the USA matches up best against them. For no reason, other then, that the USA is a physical team.

Canada is soft. Sidney (or is it Cindy) Crosby is a cherry-picking pretty boy who folds whenever you hit him. Team Canada apparently inherited that from him. They are fast and can score, don’t get me wrong, but if you smack them around, like the USA did Sunday night, you can throw them off their game, and take advantage of forced turnovers. But the Russians….it’s a different story. Ovi’s hit on Jagr (as a Caps fan, it was beautiful) put on full display that the Russians welcome contact and can also dish it out. So how do you beat them? Heck, I don’t know. If I did, I would be standing in Brian Burke’s spot. In my opinion, I think the USA is going to have to be more physical and stay on their assignments. All too often on Sunday night, we saw USA defensemen out of position, and if they do that against Russia, they will get destroyed. Team USA can’t rely on Ryan Miller to stop 40+ shots on goal in a matchup against the Russians.

But right now, this is all pie in the sky. Team USA has a bye to the quarters, and we will see how it all shakes out. But how sweet would it be, 30 years later, to have Team USA vs. Team Russia in a Gold Medal Game. I say, bring ’em on.

Go USA!!!