Sweden's Henrik Lundqvist, right, was no match for the high-powered Canadian attack in the semifinal of the world hockey championship. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
At the world hockey championship
Canada sets up dream final with Russia
By Alan Adams, Special to CBC Sports
QUEBEC CITY - Mike Green has an idea how Canada can beat Russia in Sunday's gold medal game of the 2008 world hockey championship.
"We just have to tie Ovechkin up and then Fedorov and Semin won't have anybody to pass to," said Green, tongue firmly planted in cheek, after Canada beat Sweden 5-4 in the semifinal on Friday to set up a dream gold final against Russia.
Green knows what he is talking about. He plays for the Washington Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Semin are his teammates. He's seen them work their magic in game and at practice.
Green knows there is no real use for a scouting report on Ovechkin, who won the NHL's scoring race with 65 goals and 112 points. Ovechkin is a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the league MVP, and the Pearson Award as the NHL's best player as selected by his peers.
"When he is playing for his country, you know he will do something special," said Green, whose coast-to-coast goal on a blistering wrist shot with seven seconds left in the second period stood as the winner.
Somehow it feels right that Canada and Russia are renewing international hockey's great rivalry (with all apologies to Finland and Sweden) at the International Ice Hockey Federation's 100th birthday party. You have to ask yourself where would world hockey be without its two greatest powers, Canada and Russia.
There are a couple of other roads that connect Canada and Russia in this tournament.
Canada is looking to become the first host country to win the world title on home ice since Russia in 1986 and the first reigning world champion to successfully defended its world title on home ice since the Russians in 1979.
"It's the final everybody wanted," said Fedorov after the Russians disposed of Finland in the earlier semifinal, 4-0.
Sweden takes early lead
Against the Swedes, the Canadians were paced by, yes you guessed it, the line of Dany Heatley, Rick Nash and Ryan Getzlaf. They had a three-goal, five-point performance and are now 1-2-3 in scoring, with Nash being the pace car with 11 goals and 18 points, while his teammates are knotted at 13 points apiece.
The Swedes definitely gave the Canadians all they could handle and actually were up 2-1 at one point, marking the first time since this event started almost two weeks ago that Canada trailed.
"We showed a lot of character on the bench and the guys didn't get down,' said Nash.
All anyone in Canadian colours had to do was watch Nash for a personal motivational highlight reel.
Nash battled for every inch of the ice and when he drove to the net, the Swedish defenceman tried to defend their ground but to no avail. Three of them could have jumped on Nash's back and it would not have mattered. He would have carried them to the net.
On his goal, Nash split the defence and barreled down on Lundqvist with a head of steam. It was no contest.
The Swedes pulled Lundqvist to start the third and a late goal sliced Canada's lead to one goal. But the Canadians held on.
"It was our toughest game," said Getzlaf.
The championship game marks the first time Russia and Canada will play for world hockey supremacy. Canada lost 5-3 to the Soviet Union in the round-robin medal round in 1989 and the Soviet Union split up the following year.
The Russians were last in the title game in 2002.
"For 30 years, we beat everybody," said Ovechkin, referring to the dominant Big Red Machines. "For 15 years, Canada beat everybody."
Now it is Canada vs. Russia for world gold.
Hockey simply doesn't get better than this.
More from Alan
- Sluggish Canada settles for silver
- More than gold at stake for Canada, Russia
- Canada sets up dream final with Russia
- Russia close to being a world power again: Fetisov
- Leclaire focused - not stressed - ahead of semi
- Game Norwegians no match for Canada
- Where would Canada be without Dany Heatley?
- Rout helps Canada into quarter-finals
- Team Canada a work in progress
- Blue-line could be Canada's undoing
- Where is Team Canada's depth?
- Slovenia no match for Canada
More on the world hockey championship
- Russia takes world hockey gold in overtime
- IIHF names top hockey moment, all-century team
- Teemu Selanne retires from Team Finland
- Finland blanks Sweden for bronze medal
- Canada to play for world championship
- Impressive Russians beat Finland in world semifinal
- Roy leads Canada to easy win over Norway
- Canada unbeaten at hockey worlds
- Controversial goal helps Finland top U.S.
- Staal scores 4 in Canada rout
- Ovechkin scores pair in Russia win
- Nash scores late to save Team Canada at worlds
- Heatley gives Canada win over USA
- Germany upsets Slovakia at hockey worlds
- Heatley passes Yzerman in Canadian romp
- Sweden avoids another Belarus upset
- Heatley nets hat trick for Canada
- Schedule & Scores