Canada vs. Russia: World Hockey Championship Final Preview

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Although the Canucks season ended early this year, Team Canada did their part to ensure Vancouver fans had some hockey to look forward to this weekend, as they booked their ticket to the World Hockey Finals by beating the host Czech Republic 2-0 in the semi-finals. Here’s what you need to know about the Finals, set to go tomorrow.

When: Sunday, May 17, 11:30 a.m. PT

Where: The game will be shown on TSN1, TSN4 and TSN5. Thank god there are five TSN channels so we can flip between 1, 4 and 5 if we’re feeling frisky. No word on if TSN2 or TSN3 are demanding a trade after being left out of the Finals.

Who: Canada vs Russia, that age old rivalry. From Paul Henderson, to Vladmir Tretiak, to Mario Lemieux, to the KLM line, to Jorden Eberle, to dozens more, there is a deep history of bitterly contested hockey between these two countries.

While the World Championships aren’t viewed with the same prestige as the Olympics, Canada Cup or World Juniors, it’s still a great chance to beat up our old Russian friends in our never ending quest to prove how good we are at hockey. And that maple syrup is way better than vodka.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby

After Ovechkin’s season ended at the hand of Alain Vigneault’s Rangers, he flew over to the tournament to help Mother Russia out. While initially we all snickered that Ovechkin was merely doing the second leg of his ‘Lose in a big game and look sad on TV” tour, he immediately made an impact for Russia by getting two points in their 4-0 victory over the U.S. in the semis.

Now, Ovechkin finds himself facing his old foe Sidney Crosby, except this time Sid has made powerful new friends. It’s like the Avengers, except minus a weird scene where Hulk tries to figure out if he can ever love somebody. Wait, Brent Burns is kind of like the Hulk…okay, this is EXACTLY like the Avengers: Age of Ovechkin.

Spezza, Duchene, Eberle, Hall, Seguin, Giroux, Mackinnon and Ekblad are just a few of the superstar names that are helping Crosby out in his quest to make Ovechkin feel kind of bad about himself. Spezza, in fact, leads the team in scoring with 14 points, while Crosby merely has a modest nine points.

On Russia’s side, they have a handful of players you’ll recognize from the NHL (Kovalchuk, Tarasenko, Ansimov), but the majority of the roster is made up of KHL players. In fact, their leading scorer is Sergei Mozyakin, a 34 year old KHL star, who many Canadians would only know of if they really wanted to impress people with their random KHL knowledge whilst sipping on their growler.

“Oh, you don’t know Mozyakin? He plays for Metallurg now, but I preferred him on Atlant.”

Hamhuis vs. Shirokov

That’s right, ex-Canuck Sergei Shirokov, i.e. “one of the few Russian guys the Canucks have had on the team recently,” is on Team Russia. While Dan Hamhuis has no reason to feud with Sergei, it’s more interesting if we pretend they really hated each other due to something trivial during their time together in Vancouver. Maybe Shirokov used Dan’s shampoo, a medical shampoo made just for Dan, and that really riled him up?

Regardless, Dan Hamhuis should be reason enough for Canucks fans to want to tune in, if only to see if the rumours are true that he might actually smile if he wins a major tournament. He even got to wear the “C” in a game! Sadly, still no smile.

Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Mike Smith

One has a fun name that sounds like a TV detective, the other like to fall down and play dead.

Despite the god awful season Mike Smith had in Arizona this year, he has played lights out for Team Canada, posting a .931 save percentage so far. Bobrovsky has done his part posting a .920 save percentage. Both goalies shut out the other team in their semi-final match-ups.

The question is if Bobrovsky can keep up his solid play against the might of the Canadians. They lead the tournament in goals for by a wide margin (60 goals for, with 2nd being Russia with 39), so Bobrovsky better draw on his experiences in Columbus with getting out-shot to help him in the Finals.

Back to the podium

Canada hasn’t won a medal at the World Hockey Championships since 2009. Again, this speaks to how this tournament isn’t regarded as highly as other national tournaments, as Canada didn’t hold camps to figure out “what’s wrong with Canadian hockey” after going without a medal for so many years.

Still, winning is winning, so it should be a great game to tune in and watch.

On TSN1, 4 and 5 that is. Not 2 and 3. TSN2 and 3 are the worst.

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Wyatt Arndt Wyatt Arndt is a freelance writer who currently writes for The Province, Canucks Army, Canucks.com and Vancity Buzz. He's probably written in bathroom stalls near you as well. You can find him on Twitter where he is most likely making fun of Eddie Lack's goalie mask.
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