The afternoon game today was the only one with an relevance on the tournament. If Russia could win in any fashion, they would move into the semi-finals to take on Canada. If they lost in any fashion, North America would advance instead. The evening game is… well… irrelevant… it’s just an exhibition game at this point as both Team USA and their awful roster and Team Czech Republic were already eliminated from the semi-finals. The only redeeming quality for watching this game would be to see if Ondrej Palat could get on the scoresheet and if Ben Bishop would play after Jonathan Quick didn’t shine in the first two games.
Team Finland 0 versus Team Russia 3
Valtteri Filppula – 0-0-0, -2, 1 Hit, 17:36 TOI
Nikita Kucherov – 0-0-0, E, 2 SOG, 2 Blocks, 16:53 TOI
Vladislav Namestnikov – 0-0-0, E, 1 SOG, 1 Hit, 12:19 TOI
Nikita Nesterov – DNP
Andrei Vasilevskiy – DNP
This game was played pretty tightly as Russia only edged Finland in shots on goal 22-21. The difference was the offensive weapons that Russia had up front were able to find the back of the net against Tuuka Rask. The goals came from Tarasenko, Telegin, and Malkin. Telegin is the only player in that group that is not an offensive player as he plays more of a defensive role.
Filppula failed to get a shot on net and only had one shot attempt, a missed shot. He also went 6-6 on the faceoff. He had the misfortune of being on ice for two of Russia’s three goals. His 17:36 TOI was third among Finland’s forwards
Kucherov found himself back on the power play with 2:05 of power play time as he played with Ovechkin’s power play unit. He managed to have 6 total shot attempts in the game. His 16:53 TOI was third among Russia’s forwards and his 14:48 of even strength TOI was second to Evgeni Malkin.
Namestnikov had a fairly quiet game in his 12:19 TOI with just the one shot on goal. He was last among Russia’s skaters for TOI. Nikita Nesterov and Andrei Vasilevskiy did not dress for the game.
With the win, Team Russia is on to the semi-finals and will play against Team Canada on Saturday night.
Team USA versus Team Czech Republic
Ben Bishop – 16 saves on 20 shots, 40:00 TOI
Ondrej Palat – 0-1-1, +1, 3 SOG, 1 Hit, 3 Blocks, 20:52 TOI
Andrej Sustr – 1-0-1, +1, 3 SOG, 1 Block, 21:11 TOI
The game overall was fairly lack luster. The scoring was opened up by a point shot that got past Ben Bishop has he was screened by two players and it squeaked in short side. Ondrej Palat got the primary assist on the goal. Team USA responded pretty quickly in the first period with a power play goal. The second period saw a bad luck goal as Bishop got knocked over and then with a scramble going on the goal crease, a Team USA player pushed the puck into the net instead of clearing it or putting it under a prone Bishop.
Andrej Sustr showed some of what has contributed to his development into a more rounded two-way defenseman. Over the past year, he has become more confident in the offensive zone. He is more comfortable, and responsible, pinching in on the play and putting the puck at the net. While he doesn’t have the hardest or most accurate shot, he has done more in the offensive zone. Tonight, he got down low and got lost (HOW DO YOU LOSE A GIRAFFE ON SKATES?) and snuck the puck through Bishop as he was pushing cross crease and couldn’t quite seal the post in time to stop Sustr’s shot. I think Sustr owes Bishop a steak dinner for that one.
Ondrej Palat goes home without scoring a goal in the tournament. Him and Stamkos are the only Lightning skaters that have played in a game and have not scored a goal. Stamkos will have at least one more game and perhaps up to four more games to score a goal. Pretty impressive as a group overall.
With Ben Bishop’s performance, not to make any excuses, but he did his best with how limited his ice time has been. He hasn’t started a game since May 13th since John Tortorella delegated him to relief play in the first two pre-tournament games. He hasn’t played more than 20 minutes in a game since May 8th. And it’s been almost two weeks since he even got on the ice.
Ondrej Palat’s 20:52 TOI was third among the Czech Republic’s forwards. Andrej Sustr’s 21:11 was just barely the most among defensemen as the Czech Republic pretty much just rotated their top 4 defensemen all game with 4 players hitting the 21 minutes mark. Sustr also saw 1:43 TOI on the power play, second among the Czech’s defensemen.
Now, players from both teams will head back to their respective teams and start training camp.