If you've logged on to a computer or turned on a television before this moment, you know what happened when the United States of America took on Russia today. A superbly played game went to a shootout, T.J. Oshie became a beloved American, and the U.S. triumphed 3-2. Let's focus on the three Kings involved, and guess what? Each of them was a story in today's game.
Jonathan Quick Stakes His Claim
Oshie (deservedly) got most of the credit for America's eventual triumph, but after his game-winner, what was the first thing he did? He pointed to the other end of the ice, to the other player who had brought home the victory. That was Jonathan Quick. After a quiet game versus Slovakia, Dan Bylsma went back to Quick, prompting fury from Buffalo and a number of other locales. Quick justified the choice, as he was beaten twice by Pavel Datsyuk but stopped everyone else through regulation and overtime.
In the shootout, he was victimized by Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, but came up with a couple key saves and saved his best save for the eighth round. After that lunging stop on Kovalchuk, Oshie finished off the win with his fourth shootout goal. Quick made 29 stops, and though he might have been fortunate to not give up a third goal in regulation (more on that in a bit), it may have been enough to close the book on future goaltender debate. Though Bylsma may (wisely) elect to let Miller start the second game of the back-to-back.
Bylsma called Quick's play "exceptional" versus Russia but left the door open to start Miller versus Slovenia.— Jason Brough (@JasonPHT) February 15, 2014
It wasn't all sunshine and roses for the Kings, though...
Dustin Brown Keeps Making Enemies
Which of these facts is the least surprising?
1) Dustin Brown took a kneeing penalty.
2) Non-Kings fans exploded.
3) No further discipline was deemed necessary.
Answer? All of the above! Since the Tomas Hertl injury, Brown has been playing under an intense microscope. No microscope needed today, as the most-viewed game of Brown's season saw him lay a bad hit on Vladimir Tarasenko. (It's always the Blues, isn't it?) Vitriol immediately came Brown's way, even more so after Pavel Datsyuk tied the game on the ensuing power play. However, the two-minute penalty was sufficient punishment enough according to the IIHF.
IIHF discipline committee is not looking at Brown knee on knee hit, saying the refs got the call right in game.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 15, 2014
An elbow from Sabahudin Kovacevic in the earlier Slovenia game is being reviewed by the same committee, so it's not like they're letting everything go. In the end, it's just another item on the list for those who hate Brown, and another non-suspension on the list for his defenders. Personally, I'm looking forward to his headlines being goals and not knees.
Slava Voynov Gets Too Honest
However, there was no debate over what got the most buzz in Los Angeles after this game.
Voynov on Quick dislodging the net before the Tyutin disallowed goal: "I play with him. I know that's his style." #USAvRUS— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) February 15, 2014
With under five minutes to go, Fedor Tyutin took a shot from the blue line which beat Quick and (apparently) gave Russia a 3-2 lead. The goal was reviewed immediately, and no one questioned it as a Russian player was waving a stick near crossbar height in front of quick. However, the puck didn't touch anything on the way in. So when the goal was waved off, confusion reigned... until the replays showed that the net was off its moorings. In international play, that's an automatic no-goal, even if the play isn't blown dead.
The replay showed that well before Tyutin's shot, Quick had come across the crease to make a save, and in doing so, went into his left post and knocked it off ever-so-slightly. Postgame, Slava Voynov had an explanation (via Puck Daddy):
This question is to the referees: Was the net dislodged, and why it was dislodged? Why didn’t they notice it earlier? ... I can tell you myself, because I am his teammate and I play with him. It is in his style to do something like that. Yes. The question is why wasn’t it noticed? That’s the question to the referees.
Naturally, the comment did NOT go over well with either Kings fans or Americans. Chesnokov (the reporter who provided the quote) clarified later that the comment was in the heat of the moment, shortly after the U.S. had clinched their win. But the damage was done.
Is it that big a deal in the long run? Quick is a professional, so it probably won't cause any lingering tension. It's not exactly a secret that the net gets knocked off a LOT when Quick is in net, so I wouldn't expect NHL referees to start calling penalties on him just because of Voynov's quote. (Dennis Bernstein also pointed out that Quick has never been penalized for this in his career.) He's just got strong pads, yo.
Anyway, expect Voynov to clarify the quote next time he gets interviewed, and all will be well. Besides, both teams have more important matters to tend to tomorrow.