Team Russia is looking to overcome their disappointing loss in this year’s Olympics at the IIHF World Championship, and they are well on their way to doing that. They beat France in the quarter-finals, and are now moving into the semi-finals, where they will play the winner of the Sweden-Belarus game, which will be played later today.
Russia’s success has been in large part thanks to Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. He recorded a shutout in the quarter-finals against France, getting in front of all 16 shots to help team Russia win that game 3-0. Russia scored one goal in each period, the first coming off the stick of Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov 4 and a half minutes into the game. The Russians scored again 52 seconds into the second period, this tally a power play goal coming from Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. At 7:36 in the third period the Russians added their third goal from Alexander Kutuzov.
This win over France puts Bobrovsky at the number three spot for top goaltender in the tournament, behind Canada’s Ben Scrivens and Belarus’ Kevin Lalande. Of those three, Bobrovsky has the most playing time in the tournament, currently having 300 minutes of ice time. His shots against is also the highest, at 116, compared to Scrivens’ 86 and Lalande’s 55. Bobrovsky’s goals against total 6, making his save percentage 94.83%, and his goals against average 1.2.
The Russians currently have the top scorer in the tournament, Phoenix Coyotes prospect Viktor Tikhonov leads all players with 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points and is +9. The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin is currently in the 8th spot for scoring, with 3 goals and six assists for 9 points. Having two of the top ten scorers and the third-best goaltender in the tournament makes Russia’s chances look pretty good, but they’ll have to keep battling if they want to overcome the disappointing Olympic performance.
Next up for team Russia is the semi-final game, where they will face either Sweden or Belarus. If Belarus takes it, Bobrovsky will have competition at the other end of the ice. That game would pit Bobrovsky against the leading goaltender in the tournament, Kevin Lalande. However, Belarus doesn’t have any players on the top charts for scoring. It would be offensive strength against a strong goaltender. Of course, Belarus has to beat Sweden first. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.