Monday, May 07, 2007

The Duel to Come

The Russian hockey team has secured itself a spot in the world championship quarter-finals to face-off against the mighty Czechs, in a match that promises to fulfill its reputation of a fierce battle on ice like the matches between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia have always been. From 1962 to 1986, only Czechoslovakia was able to beat the Soviet Union in the World Championship finals (and only four times); despite the split-up of the two countries, it is the Czech team that is widely regarded to be the successor of Czechoslovak hockey team.

The Russians beat the Swedes 4-2 on Monday, in a match dominated by powerplays and confrontations; the seemingly even first two quarters ended after the Russians made sure that the puck remained in the area around the goal of the Olympic and world champions in the third quarter. Two goals were secured by the already infamous Kazan "troika" from AK Bars, who many claim resembles the "Superbloc" of the Soviet 80-s hockey team of Larionov, Fetisov, Kasatonov, Krutov, and Makarov. Malkin, of the Pittsburgh Penguins secured a 3-2 lead after hitting a whopper of a shot into the Swedish goal.

Despite the Czech team being comparatively weak in this championship, it is not a sign of an easy game for the Russians. Their legendary defensive play focused on lightning-fast counter-attacks has fooled the Russians many times in the past; most recently last year. Russia is almost forced to win, with the Championship being held in Mosocw, and the game being on Victory Day (May 9th). Anything short will not be acceptable in the eyes of the Russian spectators. Good luck to both teams; we all know who will win!

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