Many considered Russia to be the favorite to take home the gold medal in men’s hockey with the Winter Olympics taking place in their home country, but Alexander Ovechkin and company were a shocking disappointment. Finland defeated Russia 3-1 in the elimination rounds and crushed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s dreams in the process.
While Russia only managed to score one goal with what was supposed to be a potent offense, head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is already taking the most heat for starting goalie Semyon Varlamov over Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky stopped all seven shots he faced after entering the game, including two spectacular saves late in the third period.
To make matters worse, Evgeni Malkin said after the game that he was the one who told Bilyaletdinov to pull Varlamov after he let in his third goal. Bobrovsky started for Russia against Norway and recorded a shutout to help his team advance to the quarterfinals. Varlamov had a shutout the game before against Slovakia, so both had been playing well.
Russia jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Tuesday before Varlamov let in a relatively soft goal:
As they often say in sports, hindsight is 20-20.