Russia looks to shake off their rocky round robin efforts as they take on Norway for a chance to compete in the quarterfinals.
The Russians haven’t done themselves any favours so far in the Men’s Hockey tournament as they now have to take the road more travelled to get their desired destination and have a very tough schedule to the gold medal game. Russia upended the Slovenians in their first game of the tournament before splitting back to back shootouts contests against the Americans and Slovaks respectively earning them second spot in their pool behind the US. Russia now must play the qualification game here against Norway for a chance to meet up with Finland in the quarterfinals which would then match up in a likely show down with top ranked Sweden in the semi-finals. There is no question that Russia’s top end talent is up there with the best in the tournament but they lack offensive depth and their blue line hasn’t been anything special which would likely come into play later on in the tournament.
Norway heads into today’s contest with the hosts as the only team not to record a point in the round robin despite a spectacular start to the tournament against Canada and a decent showing against the Finns. The Norwegians are happy to be competing in this tournament and the exposure will keep them involved in the international hockey scene but it is evident they are not at the same level as even some of the middle of the pack teams and will need a heck of a lot more in terms of development if they want to make the jump to joining some of the game’s better teams. Norway has been a scrappy bunch but as mentioned it wasn’t enough for them to earn any points and as such they are ranked dead last heading into the qualification phase and now must play the angry Russians for a chance to keep their dreams alive. While I am happy to see Norway playing with some grit I don’t think this is a good spot for them as the Russians are very disappointed with their play so far and I think they use this as a statement game for the Finns in the quarterfinals.