Spoiler alert — the Russian national hockey team broke the hearts of its home fans on Tuesday at the Winter Olympics. Finland simply out-hustled the Russians and was the better team for three periods, advancing to the semifinals where they will take on Sweden. Alex Ovechkin was very little help in the 3-1 loss.
Ovechkin may have been fatigued, but there were several moments in the third period where he looked like he was not skating hard. Russian head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was quick to call him out by name after his team was eliminated.
”Tough to explain the loss, of course, why scored so little,” Bilyaletdinov said, according to Puck Daddy. ”Players who score so many goals for their clubs, like Alex Ovechkin who scored 40 goals for his club [didn’t score]… Right now I cannot explain that.”
Ovechkin scored 1:17 into Russia’s first game of the Olympics, and that ended up being his only goal of the tournament. He is currently leading all NHL scorers with 40 goals, so you can understand why his performance was disappointing.
A lot of the blame will be placed on Ovechkin’s shoulders, but he was not the only one who failed to fulfill expectations. In fact, plenty of people are blaming Bilyaletdinov for the loss against Finland since he chose to start goalie Semyon Varlamov over Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped all seven shots he faced after Varlamov was pulled.
Ovechkin may have been expected to carry the team, but the disappointment is shared from top to bottom. Winning in front of the home fans isn’t always easy. Russia showed us that in Sochi.