It is a game that the Russians didn’t want to play, but their stumble against Slovakia necessitated an extra qualification game. Norway is looking to pull one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, one that would rival Belarus against Sweden in 2002. The winner of this game plays Finland on Wednesday in the Quarterfinals.
RUSSIA vs NORWAY
Tuesday Feb 18th, 7:30 AM EST
Here is how the teams match up:
GOALTENDING: Norway has allowed the 2nd most goals in the tournament so far, with 12 in 3 games. Lars Haugen has been the workhorse, and has faced a lot of shots to date. It hasn’t been his fault, but his club has been overmatched in many games. Russia could go with either Semyon Varlamov (2-0 including a shootout win) or Sergei Bobrovsky (1 game, 1 shootout loss) in the net.
DEFENSE: Somehow the patchwork blue line of the Russians has got the job done, as they have allowed just 5 goals in 3 games. Andrei Markov and Evgeni Medvedev have been pretty good on the blue line. The Norwegians are lacking NHL talent but former NHLer Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Jonas Holos are both averaging over 25 mintues per game.
FORWARDS: The star-studded Russians have been led by Alexander Radulov and Evgeni Malkin, each with a goal and two assists. Meanwhile, the Norwegians, as you might have expected, have had trouble scoring goals with just 3 in 3 games. Mats Zuccarello has played more than any forward, but has yet to record a point in the tournament.
PREDICTION: The Russians can look back to the 2010 host Canadians, who had to play in the qualification round before capturing the gold medal, for inspiration. Obviously they would have wanted to avoid this game, but they shouldn’t have too much trouble getting past the Norwegians.