International Ice Hockey Federation

Russia to refocus

Russia to refocus

Goalie urges renewed effort after USA loss

Published 17.05.2017 14:55 GMT+2 | Author Andy Potts
Russia to refocus
COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 5: Russia's Andrei Vasilevski #88 looks on during preliminary round action against Sweden at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
After its winning run came to a sudden end on Tuesday, Russia gets a warning from goalie Andrei Vasilevski about the need to up its game in the knock-out phase.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Russia, imperious for much of the group phase, didn’t expect a trip to Paris to form a detour on its road to World Championship success. But, after Tuesday’s 5-3 loss against the USA and Germany’s fourth-place finish in Group A, Russia is on the road.

It’s also heading to Thursday’s quarter-final with a stark warning from goalie Andrei Vasilevski that the lessons of earlier games were left unlearned, and that the team cannot draw false confidence from big wins in the preliminary round.

“[Against the Americans] we saw a repeat of the things I talked about after the Slovakia game,” Vasilevski said. “If we play like that, we won’t get away with it. We took stupid penalties. In the first period we held on thanks to some good defence, but after that the quality of the Americans made the difference.”

At first glance, it might seem strange to talk about problems that had their roots in Russia’s emphatic 6-0 victory over the Slovaks. That game formed part of a three-game streak in which the Red Machine did not allow a single goal, also picking up comfortable victories over Denmark and Latvia. But Vasilevski, who was the starting goalie for two of those games, has not forgotten the problems that Slovakia caused as he had to make some big saves to preserve Russia’s lead in the second period of that game. The problems stemmed, at least in part, from a penalty on Ivan Telegin; against the Americans, a string of minor penalties kept the pressure on Russia throughout the game and ultimately contributed to Anders Lee’s winner on the power play.

For the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, the USA game offers a warning – and something to ponder in Paris.

“It’s one thing playing against Slovakia or Denmark,” Vasilevski said. “With all due respect, we should beat these teams, our roster has more class. But maybe we relaxed a little bit after those games and didn’t manage to adjust [against the Americans]. The USA is a serious opponent, but we didn’t keep control of the puck and we gave up stupid goals. It should be a lesson for us.”

At the same time, there’s no sense of panic. Vasilevski pointed out that losing to the USA didn’t decide anything in terms of the destiny of the medals at this year’s tournament, while forward Artemi Panarin warned against reading too much into Tuesday’s loss.

“The key thing is not to let this distract us,” he said. “The big games are still to come and we need to be ready for them. We found it hard to score, and allowed goals too easily. We’ll have a look at the video, see what went wrong, and work on it.”

Russia faces the Czech Republic in Thursday’s early quarter-final in Paris. The Czechs finished third in Group B, overtaken by Switzerland on Tuesday afternoon. The teams last met in World Championship action at the start of last year’s tournament in Moscow, with the Czechs crashing the party to win 3-0.


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