VANCOUVER -- With 18:17 left in the third period of the Russia-Czech Republic game, a temblor struck the West Coast.
This was 8.0 on the Richter scale.
Alexander Ovechkin is the Great 8, a force of nature that unleashed its proud fury Sunday for all to see in Russia's 4-2 win over its Slavic neighbor. One stride from the red line, in open ice, Ovechkin, tapping his predatory instincts, knocked Jaromir Jagr on his magnificent posterior.
You will see this hit in the sports highlight films for years. Jagr will see it in his dreams.
Now Jagr, the 38-year-old Czech star, the best right wing in the world for virtually two decades, is not an easy fellow to knock down. He stands 6-foot-2. His weight is listed at 240 pounds. Of those 240, roughly 169 pounds are in his butt. He has a truly Kardashian booty, part of his colossal set of hockey haunches that set him apart from the rest of the hockey world. When former NHL defenseman Ken Daneyko was asked this week who was more difficult to knock off the puck, Jagr or Peter Forsberg, he didn't hesitate. "Jagr," he said. The reason, to paraphrase, was hindquarters.
So there was Jagr, dangling in the neutral zone, while Ovechkin lined him up. As Jagr started to shift from his backhand to his forehand, glancing down to keep his eye on the puck, the Russian barreled into him, cleanly, and sent him sprawling. The impact of the blow broke Jagr's visor. This was not merely a hockey check. Ovechkin had wallpapered Jagr. Ovechkin had vaporized him. There are players who are clever enough to strip the big man of the puck -- Pavel Datsyuk, the best defensive forward in the NHL, did it in the corner in the first period -- but there might be no one else capable of dislodging the puck and pulverizing the man.
"Guys, before you ask me the question, I know I make a mistake," Jagr said. "It was a big mistake. The hit, I don't really care, but the mistake, the turnover, they ... scored a goal. That hurt me the most. I don't really care how I feel. If something hurt, it always heals but mistake, it's not that easy to [recover]."
Now after we wipe the drool off the notebook, let us stress Jagr's point: The hit was not mere window dressing. Six seconds after Jagr wound up playing two position -- wing and prone -- Alex Semin dished to the irrepressible Evgeni Malkin (who had replaced Datsyuk as the center on Russia's No. 1 line) to put Team Russia ahead by two goals.
"Great moment," Malkin said. "Hollywood game. Hollywood moment. And we score."
"I mean, its a lift," Russian defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. " If you look at it, it was a great hit, clean hit right at the time when Jags tried to pick up the pace a bit. And we score right away, so momentum was great. We have a lot of guys who can score the goals ... It's not about who is scoring the goals. It's about doing the right things, and Alex is obviously doing the right things for us."
"Six goals, and that's the first thing you guys ask," Czech captain Patrik Elias said after the game. "... He's known for that, he likes to have a physical moment to announce himself." Ovechkin needs no announcements, no introductions, but he certainly left an impression on the Olympics.
The earth moved.
Was it as good for you as it was for Russia?