Taylor Hall-Sidney Crosby-Jordan Eberle
Ryan O’Reilly-Claude Giroux-Tyler Seguin
Nathan MacKinnon-Matt Duchene-Jason Spzza
Tyler Ennis-Sean Couturier-Tyler Toffoli
Dan Hamhuis-Brent Burns
Jake Muzzin-Tyson Barrie
Patrick Wiercioch-Aaron Ekblad
Mike Smith in net.
Alex Ovechkin-Viktor Tikhonov-Sergei Plotnikov
Sergei Mozyakin-Evgeni Malkin-Nikolai Kulemin
Artemi Panarin-Vadim Shipachyov-Vladimir Tarasenko
Ilya Kovalchuk-Artem Anismiov-Evgeni Dadonov
Anton Belov-Egor Yakovlev
Dimitri Kulikov-Viktor Antipin
Andrei Mironov-Maxim Chudinov
Sergei Bobrovsky in net.
All-time Gold Medal Match-Up Record: Russia up 2-0, 2008 and 2009
Last gold medal (total golds): Russia, 2014 (5), Canada 2007 (24)
Canada’s Record: 9-0-0-0, 60 goals
Canada’s Tournament Highlight: Comeback from 3-0 deficit to Sweden to win 6-4
Russia’s Record: 6-2-0-1, 39 goals
Russia’s Tournament Highlight: All 20 players have recorded at least a single point
Canada’s Story: No doubt, the Canadians have been the better team throughout the tournament. Scoring an average of 6.66 goals a game, the team has been absolutely dominant in their quest for their 25th gold medal. Jason Spezza, Matt Duchene and Jordan Eberle will enter the finals sitting atop the tournament in scoring, with Spezza having the advantage with 14 points.
The team didn’t have to face a lot of adversity along the way. Despite almost falling to the Swedes early in the tournament, Canada has had very little issue with any other opponent, beating Germany 10-0, Austria 10-1 and Belarus 9-0 along the way. Their two games against the Czechs proved to be the toughest for them, following up a 4-2 victory in the preliminary round with a 2-0 win in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Canada’s Player to Watch: Mike Smith – With two shutouts in the past two elimination games, Mike Smith has stopped his fair share of shots. A highly scrutinized option in the Canadian crease, Smith has rebounded nicely from a terrible NHL regular season to win all seven games he’s participated in, making some game-saving stops along the way. Canada’s offense has been the story all tournament long, but if Canada is going to be able to counter Russia’s offensive threats, which can be just as strong at times, they’ll need some great goaltending from the Arizona Coyotes netminder. Sergei Bobrovsky has also played outstanding for the Russians, so if Canada is going to be the champions at the end of the day, it will require some outstanding puck stopping by Smith once again.
Russia’s Story: For a team that scores nearly four and a half goals a game, it’s hard to believe that they aren’t the offensive favourites heading into the finals. Fortunately for them, the addition of Alex Ovechkin makes them as dangerous as ever. Throughout the tournament, the team was led offensively by Evgeni Dadonov and Artemi Panarin, two under-the-radar forwards that seemed to have scored at will in almost every game.
Russia suffered just one loss all tournament long, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Americans. After some big results against Slovenia, Norway, Belarus and a few others, Russia met their toughest match, Sweden, in the quarter-finals. The Russians would hold the 3-0 lead before the game was even half over, but in the closing stages of the battle, it was a one goal game. The Russians would eventually take it 5-3 at the final buzzer, earning them a spot in the semi-finals against the Americans. It was a close battle between the two teams on Saturday, but after an explosive third period, the Russians would score four goals to earn a spot in the finals. With their title as the defending World Champions on the line, they’ll be prepared to pull out goals from anyone and anywhere before it’s all over.
Russia’s Player to Watch: Sergei Mozyakin – While you’d expect Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin to steal the spotlight for the Russians, Sergei Mozyakin has quietly been one of the most dangerous players at the World Championships. Leading the Russians with six goals and 11 points, Mozyakin scored the game winning goal against the Americans on Saturday against the Americans. The all-time KHL leading scorer with 445 points, Mozyakin has three World Championship medals, including two gold medal victories over Canada back in 2008 and 2009. Mozyakin look like a good replacement for Vladimir Tarasenko on the wing with Evgeni Malkin and Nikolai Kulemin against the Americans, and if that was going to be any indication for Sunday, they’ll be able to open up the offensive zone and exploit the inexperienced Candian defense for a few goals. Put it this way: if Russia wins, Mozyakin will likely have a positive impact on the result.
Projection: This is it. the winner of this highly anticipated game will take the gold medal. For Canada and Russia, scoring hasn’t been an issue whatsoever. Canada does have a 21 point lead in that category, however, and with players such as Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, Matt Duchene and Jason Spezza leading the way for 60 goals in nine games. Could this end up being a Sidney Crosby vs Alex Ovechkin battle? With the amount of offense on all four lines of every team, don’t expect that. What you can expect, however, is a close game for 60 minutes, with Canada eventually taking the 5-4 victory to take the gold medal, just like they did back at the World Juniors a few months back.
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