Canada-Russia, Sid-Ovi, who needs more?

February, 24, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A Canada-Russia clash doesn't need any subplots. This rivalry has sold itself for 37½ years.

But like it or not, the bitter rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin is impossible to ignore, whether it's when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals clash or in the pair's only international meeting in the 2005 world junior championship. Now, the NHL stars are set to face off in one of the biggest games they will ever play against each other in their careers.

"We know there's a lot of storylines and that's a huge one," Team Canada winger Jarome Iginla said after an 8-2 win over Germany on Tuesday night. "Canada-Russia, the history there, Sid-Ovechkin, for sure. But as players, we're not sitting there watching and wondering about [them]. We want to win that game. We're not looking for [Crosby] to just do it by himself."

Ovechkin has been a one-man wrecking crew in these Olympics, as his big hits on Zdeno Chara and Jaromir Jagr have been the highlights in a very physical Games for him.

"I'm sure he's going to hit one guy, if not more. I wouldn't be surprised," Crosby said after Tuesday night's win. "But that's part of the game and it's going to be tough, it's going to be a battle. It's part of the game, and we expect that. I don't expect us to be intimidated; it's going to be tough, though."

We'd love to tell you what Ovechkin had to say about the big game with Crosby and Team Canada, but the Russian superstar once again did not speak to any media after Russia's practice Tuesday. Guess he'll do his talking on the ice Wednesday night.

Another subplot in Wednesday's game sees Crosby face off against Penguins teammates Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar.

"It's something that we probably thought sooner or later would happen," Crosby said. "It's not a huge surprise. I've played against Orps [Team USA's Brooks Orpik] and now it's Geno and Gonch. You know what? That's what we expected, and we're going to play hard. I don't expect them to let up, and from my side, I don't think it's going to happen. It's going to be intense."

Ovechkin, Malkin, it doesn't matter. It's Canada-Russia, and Crosby grew up watching those games. Now he's part of one.

"I mean, that's a big rivalry, we all know it. It's something that everyone was talking about before the Olympics and whether they thought it would happen in the quarterfinals or whenever," Crosby said. "The fact is, we've got a big quarterfinal game and the fact that it's them just adds more to it. I expect it to be a pretty incredible atmosphere."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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