Canada face early Russian roadblock to final

Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:43pm EST
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - From the Kremlin to Ottawa's Parliament Hill a Canada-Russia showdown was the Olympic men's hockey dream game everyone wanted -- just not in the quarter-finals.

After a shock 5-3 loss to the United States, reeling Canadians woke up on Monday to a Super Sunday Olympic hangover and no doubt Russian hockey fans were feeling a little bit the same way after checking out the perilous road they must travel to the gold medal final.

Canada's loss to the U.S. triggered a stunning turn of events that could see the world's two top-ranked teams fighting for survival in a final-eight clash on Wednesday rather then battle for the last gold of the Games on February 28.

If Canada can beat winless Germany in a qualification game on Tuesday it will set up a heart-pounding quarter-final battle between hockey's two super powers adding another page to the sport's richest rivalry.

Certainly Team Canada will not be looking beyond Tuesday's meeting with Germany, but hockey mad Canadians are already plotting the dangerous course through a hockey minefield that includes well-rested Russia followed by a probable meeting with reigning Olympic champions Sweden or Slovakia.

"I'm not worried about that one (Russia) right now, we've got a big one tomorrow," Canada forward Sidney Crosby told reporters.

"It's what we expected. We knew that come this time they are must-wins no matter who we play.

"Everyone is in the same position, everyone has to win now so it doesn't matter what you've done the last three games.   Continued...

<p>Alex Ovechkin (C) of Russia celebrates their win over the Czech Republic with teammates in their hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 21, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk</p>