Breakdown of @USAHockey demolition over #Russia.

16 May

Toot toot tooting my horn this afternoon.  After running some odds and probability calculation yesterday, the US and Russia teams were 50/50 to win today’s game before the start (see all the odds here).  I correctly predicted in my IIHF Worlds Bracketolgy blog post (here) the USA would win if Gibson got the nod over Bishop in goal.  But, I don’t think anyone predicted an 8-3 drubbing.  I did think bringing Ovechkin on the roster this late was a mistake for the Russian side.  Was it?

Well, Ovechkin scored a goal and also had an assist.  So, two points in the first game was great on paper.  However, that goal was pretty meaningless.  The Russian’s were down 4-1 when he nailed the rear bar behind Gibson and a two goal difference was a close as they would get.  The Americans chased Bryzgalov from the net at the end of the second period.  Kovalchuk, who led the tournament in scoring, finished with zero points.  Medvedev and Radulov were in the tournament’s top ten leaders in scoring prior to this game; both finished with zero points.  Radulov finished -3, partly due to giving up a turnover on the powerplay which led to the US scoring shorthanded for goal number five in the early matchup.  If you look at things this way, Ovechkin was sort of the sole bright spot on a team where their star player’s didn’t show up.  I disagree with this take on things.

First off, credit to the Americans.  Bryzgalov’s GAA was low prior to the game, but he was seeing a low number of shots a game (credit to Russia’s defense).  On the other hand, his save percentage was pretty mediocre.  In the first match the US side sent only 22 shots his way, scoring on three of them.  In this match, similar results.  The big difference was 21 shots in the first TWO periods, scoring on four of those opportunities.

The next problem was making room for Ovechkin.  This caused some line shuffling to get him in the game.  Loktionov was scratched and Tereshenko (-3) was promoted in his place to the top line with Radulov and Kovalchuk.  Anisimov was bumped to the third line to make room for Ovechkin and Kunetsov (-1) got on the third line in Tereshenko’s place.  On the fourth line, Russia had three new faces from the first time they played the US.  The US roster?  Nearly identical to the first time they played.  This without a doubt caused chemistry issues from a game Russia controlled first time around to a game where they were dominated.

Ice times were a major issue for Russia’s leaders because of Ovechkin.  Only Radulov saw an increase in ice time for the game, while Kovalchuk and Medvedev saw a decrease in playing time.  All three of these player’s saw an increase in their third period playing time today in an attempt to make a comeback when the game was still manageable.  In other words, outside of the third period, Radulov saw the same ice time, while Kovalchuk and Medvedev were on the ice two to three less shifts for each of the first two periods.

The results of line member swapping and adding Ovechkin: a combined -12 for these four players and an embarrassing 8-3 loss at the hands of the Americans.

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