Canada earns gold-medal rematch with Russia
The look on Lindy Ruff's face said it all.
When a Russian journalist asked Ruff whether Canada would be satisfied if the team lost to Russia in Sunday's gold medal game at the world hockey championship in Bern, Switzerland, Ruff stared at the guy as if he had two heads and a tail.
"We will not be satisfied and I am sure the Russians would not be satisfied, either," said Ruff. "Somebody will leave unsatisfied on Sunday."
The Canadians played their best game against Sweden and emerged with a convincing 3-1 triumph Friday to advance to the final everybody predicted would happen when the tournament began two weeks ago.
In the earlier semifinal, the Russians got a power-play goal with 1:47 left in the third period to beat the United States 3-2.
Canada's forechecking gave the Swedes fits all night. The Canadians kept the Swedes to the outside and never gave up the middle of the ice. And the times when Sweden was on the power play, the Canadian penalty killers were relentless.
"I think they found a whole new gear," said Canada general manager Doug Armstrong after the game and shortly before Mark Messier paid a surprise visit to the Canadian dressing room.
Goalie Dwayne Roloson was more than up for the task, and he cast a much more imposing shadow over his opponents than The Monster — the nickname for Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
The Monster got an early lesson from Martin St. Louis on just how crafty one of the NHL's smallest players can be. St. Louis was behind the Swedish net when he banked a backhand pass off the net to Derek Roy, who then snapped a short wrist shot high into the net to open the scoring at 6:51 of the opening period.
Shawn Horcoff made it 2-0 at 9:53 of the second period for Canada's second even-strength goal of the game, and Roy tripled the margin at 10:38.
The Swedes scored 6:14 into the third period but you could have counted the number of scoring chances they had after that on a thumb and two fingers.
"They really protected their net and we did not get to the spots we wanted to," said Sweden's coach Bengt-Ake Gustavsson.
Going into the game, questions were being asked about Canada's sense of urgency, given their lacklustre performance in a 4-2 quarter-final win over Latvia.
The Canadians huddled for a players-only meeting after the morning skate, and whatever was said paid dividends.
"Some of the guys who have won before talked about what it takes in this tournament, especially in the quarters, the semis and the finals and what they were able to do and how they were able to elevate their game," said Horcoff. "We really focused on that. We have lots of gold medals in that room and there is plenty of people who can talk."
"We are all professionals and we have all played in do-or-die games and we needed to talk it out a little bit," said St. Louis.
Ruff noted that captain Shane Doan and Dany Heatley, who have two world gold medals apiece, had an impact with their comments.
After the game, the focus was on Russia and the rekindling of international hockey's greatest rivalry.
Canada has now made it to the gold-medal game in six of the last seven world championships and seeks its 25th title.
"Canada-Russia — there are a lot of Canadians who think it is a great match-up and there are some guys in there who are happy to be back to have a second crack at it," said Horcoff.
That was in reference to the Canadians who went into the third period of the championship game a year ago in Quebec City with a lead on Russia, but lost in overtime.
"They are in our way," said St. Louis about the Russians.
In the first semifinal, Russia's Alexander Radulov fired a bullet from the point that bounced through traffic off of Konstantin Gorovikov and past goalie Robert Esche for the winning goal. T.J Oshie was in the box serving a hooking penalty for the U.S.
The Americans now play Sweden for the bronze medal.
"We have to find that motivation go be ready to play," said defenceman John Liles. "It would be a pride thing for us to win the bronze medal."
Notes: Ruff tinkered with his lines, inserting Doan on the top line with Jason Spezza and Heatley … Roy was put on a line with Steve Stamkos and St. Louis … The IIHF awarded the 2014 world tournament to Belarus.