Canada rolling ahead of World Cup semifinal vs Russia
TORONTO (AP) Ryan Getzlaf doesn't remember a single thing from Canada's last matchup with Russia in a tournament featuring the best hockey players in the world.
''I couldn't even tell you what the score was or when we played them or what happened,'' Getzlaf said.
Canada coach Mike Babcock, however, remembers the nerves of his players that day. Team Canada was anxious at that point of the 2010 Olympic Games in a quarterfinal matchup with the Russians. The group was four years removed from a seventh-place disaster at the 2006 Games, trying to reclaim gold on home soil in Vancouver.
Any tension quickly evaporated. Canada pumped six goals past Evgeni Nabakov in the first 24 minutes and won 7-3. Getzlaf had three points in just over 10 minutes.
Canada is now a powerhouse as it prepares to host Russia in Saturday's semifinal at the World Cup of Hockey, winners of 13 straight best-on-best games dating to 2010. The Canadians rolled through the preliminary round in Toronto, outscoring their Czech, American and European foes 14-3, trailing for just 89 seconds.
Russia poses the biggest threat yet. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko front a dangerous top line with Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, and Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin there, too.
''For us, there can't be any casual moments with how dangerous some of these players are,'' said Ryan O'Reilly. ''You give them opportunity they're going to create and they're going to bury them and make us pay.''
Canada outlasted Russia in a pre-tournament game with a 3-2 overtime win. Though players on both sides didn't think that offered much insight into Saturday's matchup, the formula was there for how Canada could fall on Saturday: Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 45 of 48 shots to give his squad a chance.
All but two players have at least a point for Canada thus far. Nine different players have scored, and Canada will face an inexperienced Russian defense.
Canada has evolved into a wrecking ball in big games since that thorough destruction of Russia in 2010. Their last loss in best-on-best play came against the U.S. in the preliminary round of the Olympics in Vancouver.
''It's just an expectation to win,'' forward Logan Couture said of Canada's ability to perform on the big stage. ''When you come into an event and you throw on the Canadian jersey the expectation and the feeling in the room is that we want to win and we're here to win. I think big games bring out the best of everyone.''