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Posted at 07:22 PM ET, 02/25/2010

Igor Larionov on Russia's loss, Canada's strength

Here's another hockey update from Sport-Express' Slava Malamud, who will be blogging for us throughout the Games:

There aren't many people in Russian hockey as respected and as well-versed in both the NHL and the KHL as Igor "The Professor" Larionov, a Hall of Famer and the pivot of the famed Soviet KLM line.

Even before the Olympics started, Larionov had warned against praising the Russian star-studded team too much and underestimating the Canadians' approach, both emotional and systematic.

After the Quarterfinal Catastrophe, I ran into Igor at the Russia House, where he was doing a TV interview, and we chatted a bit on the reasons behind the loss.

"The trouble is, we have stopped to appraise the situation realistically," Larionov said. "We have stopped to time ourselves by the NHL clock. We are trying to prove to ourselves that hockey [in North America] is bad and primitive, that we don't need what they are doing here. But look what the Canadians did to us. In almost every game situation, there was tremendous support for each other throughout the ice. In every zone there were people who were ready to fight and help out a teammate. They had superstars who play 20-25 minutes in their [NHL] teams but were ready to accept a small role for the common good and to do some unpleasant work for it, too.

"What Russia lacked was the heart. And you can't even blame [Ovechkin] or any particular players. One person has a bad day - so what? There are 20 on the team. In the Stanley Cup playoffs it often happens that in the beginning, the stars step back in the shadows and it's up to [players like the Detroit Red Wings'] [Kirk] Maltby and [Kris] Draper and [Darren] McCarty to carry the team. And then, when their energy is running out, the skill and experience take over. The mistake of our coaches was their poor familiarity with North American hockey. The Canadians had Sidney Crosby, who toiled everywhere, in all three zones, which is why he is the pride of Canada. We have Ovechkin, but not much beyond him."

By Slava Malamud  |  07:22 PM ET, 02/25/2010

Tags:  Alex Ovechkin, Detroit Red Wings, Olympics

 
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