One of the most anticipated matchups of the entire Winter Games in Vancouver turned into a blowout early on. It only took eight minutes for Canada to build a 3-0 lead against Russia in their quarterfinal matchup. The Canadians were up 4-1 after the first period before going on to win it 7-3. It was pretty clear to anyone watching the game that Russia’s starting goalie, Evgeni Nabokov, simply didn’t have it. I’ve never been a big Nabokov guy but I can’t deny his dominant regular season play, so I’m not complaining that he was their top option. What I don’t understand is how they didn’t yank him in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov after the first.
The Russians still had a shot at winning the game when they were down by only three. They stuck with Nabokov and he gave up a goal early in the second to Corey Perry where he was pathetically out of position (check out the picture above). Even with your chances dwindling at 5-1, you have to give yourselves the best opportunity to win and make that change. They didn’t. Shea Weber slapped one in to make it 6-1 before the Federation decided it was time to finally make the change. Nabokov’s final numbers were 17 stops on 23 shots. He left with the score six to freaking one.
Russia added two more goals in the period while Bryzgalov allowed a goal to make the score 7-3. While it may have been hard to come back from down three goals, the Russian coach owed it to his team to give them the best chance to win. Leaving Nabokov in only allowed Canada a chance to waltz into the semis. Despite all the commotion and second-guessing following Team USA’s upset win on Sunday, it looks like we’re in for a gold medal game rematch of Sunday’s contest. The Canadians have been dominating all their games in the shots on goal category and are scary.