Top Line: Ovechkin's dark hour; U.S. and Canadian women go for gold; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Dostoyevsky wrote that the most innate spiritual need of the Russian people is suffering. Gene Collier writes that there's plenty of that to go around after the host nation's humiliating quarterfinal loss to Finland.
• The reaction in Russia to the loss? There was no reaction.
• Steve Simmons writes that the Olympics ended the way just about every season does for Alex Ovechkin, with doubt and disappointment.
• Team USA will be looking to avenge a crushing loss four years ago in Vancouver when they face-off against Team Canada on Thursday at noon ET (NBC) with the women's hockey gold medal on the line. We'll be live blogging the game.
• To give newcomers to women's hockey a sense of how deeply this rivalry cuts, here's a list of the 10 most memorable meetings between Canada and the U.S.
• There was plenty to like about Canada's 2-1 quarterfinal win over Latvia, but Bruce Garrioch says that concerns remain about the team's ability to score in this tournament.
• Arthur Staple is reporting that Canada's John Tavares will miss the remainder of the NHL season as a result of the knee injury he suffered in Wednesday's game against Latvia. Tough break for the Islanders, and grist for the mill of opponents to NHL participation in the Olympic tournament.
• Matt Duchene will fill in for the injured Tavares on Friday in Canada's semifinal against the U.S., leaving P.K. Subban as the only skater in the press box. Nothing against Dutch, but I'm not sure I agree with coach Mike Babcock's thinking here.
• A spectator at the game between Canada and Latvia was spotted wearing a Subban jersey ... and blackface. Stay classy, Sochi.
• Dan Wolken trolls Canadian hockey fans with a reminder that they have everything to lose over the next 24 hours. But, hey, at least Canada will always have better donuts and beer.
• Teemu Selanne says that Finland is always disrespected at tournaments like this, and he's perfectly happy that his team is going into Friday's semifinal against Sweden as the underdog. Given the rivalry between these two Nordic nations, the game should be a dandy.
• Team Latvia received a hero's welcome upon its return home on Thursday morning.
• So apparently there was more to Austria's tournament-ending loss to Slovenia than a general lack of world-class talent.
• The Atlantic might not be your first stop for hockey journalism, but Chris Koentges nails this long-form piece on Urpo Ylönen, the Jedi Master of Finnish goaltending.
• A report of out Seattle says that there is a sense the NHL could begin looking seriously into expansion to that city soon after the Olympics in Sochi conclude.
• These days, Jeremy Roenick isn't just slashing opposing players ... he's also slashing the price on his Phoenix-area mansion!Wild captain Mikko Koivu is excited about returning to action, but he's not ready to say when that will be.