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Saturday column: U.S., Russia and ‘The Bully’

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

SOCHI, Russia — Доброе утро, Lunatiks …

>> The Saturday column is about U.S.-Russia and preparing for ‘The Bully’ pictured above, but it’s also about the bigger picture of the inherent weirdness of teammate plotting to defeat teammate.

The daily Sochi Hockey Notebook looks at Paul Martin’s ‘emotional’ Olympic debut, Sidney Crosby’s new linemate and a surprise tournament leading scorer.

Here are all eight videos for Channel 11 News so far, including the latest one on the variety of food available here …

I’m also doing weekday reports for TribLIVE Radio, and the Friday podcast was culled from a phone interview with Ken Laird. Used Apple’s FaceTime, and it worked just fine.

Here’s the Trib’s Olympics page.

Here’s the official Sochi 2014 page. This has all the schedules and results.

Here’s the official U.S. Olympic team page.

Here’s the official NHL Olympics page.

And here’s NBC’s Olympics page with all the highlights.

>> Trying to find soft and fluffy language to tell a tale about toilet paper is no picnic, but here goes: The Russians, concerned about clogging drains and the sewer system, would prefer that you dispose of your used paper in a small tin basket provided in every bathroom and every stall. In fact, they often demand it in strongly worded signs.

Presumably, that’s because few are following the order. And presumably, few are following the order because … ewwwww.

The punch line to this is that the cans are now commonly being referred to as the Poo Tin.

Think about it.

>> Oh, and if you’re in the mood for a cheap laugh at my expense, the Wall Street Journal covers my continuing futility at trying to access the ‘hidden Starbucks’ NBC keeps to itself  here.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

331 Comments

  1. NBC’s coverage has been stellar so far, but they finally had their first screw-up, and it’s a big one. Watching Slovenia-Slovakia and the announcer keeps referring to this one Slovenian player (or is it a Slovakian player?…no matter…it’s all the same) as “Koe-vuh-CEVV-itch.” Tsk tsk tsk.

    But seriously, the NBC coverage has been spectacular. I’m a Winter Olympics junkie. I watch everything. Their camera angles, close-ups, super slo-mo…just a stunning week of coverage.

    • Boy, could not agree with you more, Scapper. NBC’ s Olympic coverage of everything has been tremendous. Great announcing teams at all venues. Ability to watch things live, either online or through the night and morning on their family of cable networks. Political analysts to cover issues. Features and interviews during taped PT coverage. Fair criticism and praise of venues. Just outstanding broadcasting.

  2. Will any truly substantial changes occur in locker rooms after Martin/Incognito has faded from view? Well, there will likely be some efforts to introduce a more publicly friendly locker room demeanor for public relation’s sake and to reduce the ethnic and racial tensions and the homophobia, but as long as men and women are involved in violent and brutal sports where one is expected to be tough and macho, well, such changes will largely be superficial and there will always be Martin/Incognito type incidents. And so it goes.

  3. Loved the “Bully” column DK! Really looking forward to seeing how this game plays out.

  4. I am the furthest thing from being a hockey fan, but this US/Russia matchup has gotten me out of bed on a Saturday to watch it. I gently kissed the wife on the forehead, told her to stay in bed for a while, I’ll try to keep the whooping down, and head downstairs. Only one other thing got me out of bed early on a Saturday when I could stay there and sleep for several hours…a USMNT soccer match in the WC a couple years ago against Brazil in the knockout round, and now a US/Russia non-medal round hockey game.

  5. Rise n shine bitches…its da thrilla in sochilla! :)

      • For the hockey inept like myself – what should I be looking for in this match? Key matchups?

        • Look for crisp passing and players not passing up shots with bodies crashing the net. I expect orpik to step up on someone early in the game(float like a butterfly sting like a bee). I expect team usa to want to hold onto to the puck in o-zone even it means eating the puck in the corner with their feet. Russian d can be exposed so i wouldn’t care if i had to dump it in on them if they manage to stay disciplined in neutral zone.

        • Thing I’ll be watching is the Russian defensemen. See how they approach the skating and speed of the Americans. The Russian defense is not that strong. Will they play passively and fall back on the goal. Or, will the Red Blueliners be aggressive.

          Be interesting to see how physical the Americans get. We’re North American hockey players, damnit! Let’s see some hits!

          Hoping my fellow Americans score early to take the raucous crowd out of it a bit.

        • The look on Putin’s face when the U.S. scores.

  6. Is everybody up ?

  7. Here we go…

    Screw you, Putin!!!

  8. These Olympic size rinks were built for Phil Kessel.

  9. So when does Geno take a stupid penalty ? :)

  10. Any thoughts on how to watch the game online? I went to the NBC sight it it won’t let me watch and I don’t have NBCSN.

  11. Carlson might force me to channel mike keenan’s inner monster.

  12. Morning boys – you too, Jandy. Think the ref just took a shot where you don’t want one.

  13. Jonathan Quick, y’all.

  14. Brooks Orpik’s name being called a lot. Very active so far.

    Geno denied!

  15. The Ryans McD and Suter on Malkin….every shift so far I think.

  16. Gotta say – the USA uniforms are major dull compared to the Russian ones.

  17. Shoot the puck!

  18. Did Ovie dress? Pulling his patented disappearing act.

  19. Watching Kane on the PP is a lot like watching Sid.

  20. The Russians caught a break that that penalty came at the end of the period. The ice was starting to tilt.

  21. Brooksie holding his own, Kessel and Kane warming up, and Quick holding the fort….Period 2 should be interesting.

  22. Milbury coming on reminds me to go brush my teeth.

  23. Wow how bout slovenia shutting out the slovaks?!?! My guy Kristan getting it done in net…

  24. Second periods bring potential for breaks to players coming off the bench. Cat and mouse within the game.

  25. Ovie lookin pissed….

  26. For Milo: strange to see Lavs not wearing an orange tie!

  27. Did I see that wrong???

  28. OY PIPES left and right

  29. Ouchies Kesler

  30. Wow US so much more passive on this K

  31. Oh my. Hope that is not a broken hand…..

  32. Kesler took one for the Red, White and Blue.

    Scary Russian PP unit.

  33. There is no way you ever wanna get sideways like that in a block….ouch indeed,,,,,,,

  34. Carlson in siberia on that play but orpik got his feet crossed up.

  35. Kesler one tough SOB

  36. I think its time to bust out the shot/pass redirect from the high slot. Ruskies holding their own down low and in front of net so some curveballs are in order.

  37. Team USA playing on their heels a bit in second period.

    American PP coming up.

  38. Orpik caught flat-footed at blue line on Pavel Datsyuk goal.

    Not good.

  39. Hell yes!!!!!!

    1-1

  40. JVR nutmegs himself! wow…..

  41. The replay official will get the opportunity to say goodbye to his family before his hastily scheduled trip to Siberia.

  42. Nice work to create the goal. Dumb penalty. Putin will have Radulov sent to Siberia at the intermission.

  43. ….and GOAL!!

  44. Kesler playin ol’ time hockey…love it.

  45. kesler one tough SOB!

  46. Blast it Kane!

  47. Dumb penalty by Kane at the buzzer.

  48. end of 2…time for a stretch.

  49. Ok so if anyone has shero’s number or see’s him in the hallways(dejan) feel free to inform him that the high slot is WIDE open for shots and redirects. F3 needs to pop up into high slot. Not sure if disco will adjust but its there for the taking.

  50. ‘Some form of sausage, large or small’

    I just watched the video DK posted about the food in Sochi

  51. Y’know I’m actually glad Ovi is with Malkin. He’s SO selfish he tries to do too much which helps the US D, and actually neutralizes GEno. On paper it looks great. On ice, not so much. We’ll see if Malkin gets more frustrated…..

  52. I don’t watch very much hockey anymore.

    But ever since DK wrote that column about how they should make the net bigger – that is all I can focus on when I do watch a game. It looks tiny.

  53. OK here we go, start of the last period.

  54. As HM mentioned, slot is open.

    Would also like to see some hard shot-passes to forwards right off the net edges.

  55. Very nice kill.

  56. Blast it Brown!!!

  57. Horsebleep call.

  58. Just wow…what a save by QUick

  59. Another nice kill, but time to stay out of the box from here.

  60. I think it’s no sleep until Gold for Quick.

    Outstanding so far.

  61. weak, but we’ll take it

  62. Pretty goal – and Radulov may not make it to Siberia.

  63. That’s our Wisconsin boy!!!!

    Big time international player!!!

  64. That was just CRISPY CLEAN. Good gracious.

  65. “Comrade Radulov – the President would like to see you.”

  66. Finally, Kane shows up with that filthy pass and hammer of a one-timer by Pavelski.

    2-1 USA

  67. Radulav out of position on both goals?….

  68. Watch for a lot of individual efforts from RUS now……

  69. If this holds up I’m picturing Putin’s exit from the arena. Think George Steinbrenner in Kansas City circa 1980.

  70. Reports indicate obama sending dustin brown to guantamino

  71. Dumb penalties are the story of this game. First team to find discipline wins.

  72. Argh….under the pad?!….

  73. Terrific game.

  74. Sarah…if this gets to shoot out, who wins? Just asking ;)

  75. Oh no….we jinxed em Jandy!!!!

  76. Americans failing to clear zone.

    3-2 Russia

  77. Tipped on quick I think…..

  78. Oh boy….hope the refs brought a change of clothes…

  79. High Stick! No goal!

  80. Revenge for 1972 basketball ?

  81. Very strange, the goal should have counted.

  82. They did not say high stick.
    And it wasn’t high. Maybe net off mornings?
    What a break for US.
    Unbelievable.

  83. That was a head scratcher

  84. The net was off. Good call.

  85. This one is destined for shootout, methinks.

  86. Yet another dumb penalty, and we will take it!

  87. This should be interesting.

  88. Disco drawing up the power play. :)

  89. Late PP for the Americans.

  90. Saturday morning errands must wait….

  91. Going to OT…. outstanding game

  92. The ball cap is forwards.

  93. That answers that…it’s on straight ;)

  94. Three Ryans (Kesler, McDonagh and Callahan) playing like beasts.

    Kelser has been ridiculous off the face-offs.

  95. WSJ article was a hoot, but I don’t agree that DK is right. He is not obsessive, just seriously committed.

  96. Wow…I mean…wow.

  97. Scratch Kane from the shootout.

  98. Shootout: Datsyuk, Ovie and Geno?

  99. Kessel, Pavelski, Kane

  100. JVR – 6 for 10 this year. TJ Oshie – 7 for 10 this year.

  101. All these years…still not a fan of shootout. But, like Detente, I’ve learned to live with it in non elimination situations.

  102. Minnesotan Oshie…scores!

  103. Datsyuk denied!!!

  104. Pavelski denied

  105. up to Quick…Kovalchuk…damn

  106. Oshie … denied

  107. Datsyuk… damn

  108. Dats is unbelievable

  109. Oshie….c’mon…YES!

  110. ya baby…pop that water bottle

  111. Top spin lob by Kovalchuk.

  112. Oshie!!!!!!!!

  113. Dats….denied!!!

  114. Kovalchuk…denied!

  115. Time to take my high blood pressure meds!!!!!!

  116. Oshie…YES!!! he wins the game!!!

  117. haha my Dish just went out! Catch ya later Loonies…stuff to do…GO USA!!!!

  118. What a performance by T.J. Oshie….. and Jonathan Quick.

  119. Oshie now part of US hockey history. Quick as well.

  120. Putin’s going to the locker room to fire Dick Howser.

  121. #ryanmillerballcap

  122. Three between the The Bob’s wickets.

    Sweet!

  123. Well, the US won 3-2 in overtime! Sorry Mr. Putin!

  124. That was exhausting Peeps!!!
    I gotta say, I do NOT like the rule allowing Same Shooter after 3 attempts.

    It should be a tougher test of depth IMO. Maybe after 6. But that was just silly.

    • Exhausting is an understatement !!!! LOL

      I however loved the same shooter – Both just hung in there soooo unfazed by the pressure – WOW!
      Great game – strange drinking coffee instead of liquid bread though. :)

      • In the interview after Oshie said after a while he was telling the guys on the bench, “hey, I’m running out of moves.” And no, he wasn’t complaining.

  125. Any word on whether AJ Burnett enjoyed the game ?

  126. Really fun game. Even I knew Quick was good, but didn’t know Oshie. Now I do. That vanwhatshisname attempt at a goal between his legs backwards was fun.

  127. Yes, have liked him for a few years now. Very gritty.

    Often imagined him with the Pens.

  128. Well RUS impressed me. They’ve got guys from KHL playing big minutes and but for the net being off an inch, they win.

    Imagine if Bylsma had to play 7 guys from wilkesBarre…..

    They seemed very conservative ES, had a 1-4 FC, and clogged neutral really well. Then hoped Malkin/Dats/ Ovie could win it. Which they almost did…..

    I thought US would handle them fairly easily but boy was I wrong! Hmmm.

    • Does this raise any red flags about a potential match up with Canada? Not sure. What say you Sarah?

      • Good question. I’ve thought CAN has been mostly individuals, as RUS is ….but I think CAN will be better defensively than RUS….so I lean to CAN.
        But really, much feels like a toss-up. US got outplayed today yfor large parts of the game by a team with many non NHL level players.

        CAN does not have any nonNHL players.

        • I think russian d played above and beyond what they’re capable of when it comes to consistency. Not sure they can hold up against that level of play if we played them again tomorrow. USA team has another level they can reach if they stay out of the box.

  129. Also I’m confirmed in my belief that Ovie brings any team he’s on, down. The guy for all his skills, is just sh-t when it comes to actually bringing it when it counts. Can’t imagine Genos frustration factor playing w the guy.

  130. Some of you don’t like the potential for repeat shooters after the first three in the shootout. I don’t either, but I am glad that Coach B didn’t overthink the use of Oshie and use somebody else. Can you imagine the second guessing if he had and we had lost the shootout?

    • Yes there would have been second guessing….always gonna happen in SO. I’m second guessing why they could not score more than 2 goals on a D peppered with minor leaguers.

    • I was just about to post that, Wild Bill. If they don’t win the shootout, Bylsma is being crushed right now all across the country.

      I’m sure people here in Chicago hate him for making their little sweetie, Patrick Kane, sit and watch the shootout anyway.

  131. Meanwhile SWE much less than I thought…..struggling 2-2 w LAT now….?

  132. ORPIK, MARTIN STEADY
    As they’d thought the previous day, Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin played as a pair and matched up — most of the time, anyway — against the Ovechkin-Malkin-Alexander Semin line. Orpik was a minus-1 because a forward failed to pick up Pavel Datsyuk early in the neutral zone. Martin had an even rating and was the Americans’ coolest with the puck at any position.

    Dejan, you can blame pacioretty for orpiks -1 if you’d really like to but if carlson plays routine defense that lane for datsyuk doesn’t exist. Orpik got his feet crossed up too. Actually allow me to explain differently, although pacioretty got turned the wrong way initially his job is similar to that of a Free Safety in a zone defense. When carlson cheated over to the winger along the boards that was similar to a Cornerback biting on a pump fake leaving the secondary open.

    Orpik will own that -1 but carson’s ice time, or lack there of post datsyuk goal tells the real story.

    • ?? I saw the Ryan’s vs malkins line almost all game?….on PK occasly Malkin and Orpik were out there.

      And datsyuks lane was on Orpiks side. He came up from the RW side thru neutral. Orpik was flat footed at center ice, punched hard to accelerate and went to the outside while Dats saw that and went inside. Opening a huge gap.

      Carlson was not responsible for the lane that opened up. It wasn’t his lane. It was Orpiks.

      Wow HM , we are way disagreeing here. Orpik owns that minus totally IMO. And he and Martin were not assigned to Malkin, from the get go. They were mostly out there v Dats, Though in fairness I did not track shifts much in the third period.

  133. Here’s an update from Sochi. #Team Russia has announced that the guy in charge of ensuring the moorings don’t come loose on the nets has agreed to accept a transfer to Siberia for a “career opportunity” that has just presented itself. Vladimir Putin made the offer himself, apparently.

  134. “TJ S-Oshie!” would be a nice headline for Sunday’s Trib.

  135. I thought the game was great. Very exciting. But, I think they need to change the rule that allows one guy so many shootout chances. 1 is enough, thank you. Or, maybe after x # of rounds, you can get a 2nd shot. But, once you get to shootout you are already allowing the game to be decided in a gimmicky sort of way IMO. At least, make a country prove they have several talented shootout options.

    That said, Go #TeamUSA!!!

  136. Anybody know if the shootouts go away in the medal rounds like they do in NHL playoffs ?

    • Shootouts in qualifying games, quarterfinals, semi-finals and gold medal game.

      OT in quarterfinals and semi-finals are 4 on 4 for 10 minutes.
      OT in final gold medal game is 4 on 4 for 20 minutes.

      Shootout formula for semis and final game is same as this morning.

  137. I’m against shootouts generally. In my opinion, the NHL should play, for regular season, one 10 minute OT, 4 on 4. If tied-1 point each and no points in event of OT loss. No shootouts. Then, in playoffs, no shootouts and 20 minute sudden death 5 on 5 (just like they currently do).

    That being said, in a short, compressed tournament like the Olympics, they can’t have multimillion dollar properties playing gruelling, physical, endless OT while said players are in the middle of long hard season for their NHL clubs. There has to be shootouts. You saw today how hard these guys are going after it. Can’t risk a multi OT battle for the ages in this circumstance.

    • And, today’s was entertaining. Kind of more important than some mythical approach, which we all can agree or disagree on. Sports is entertainment.

  138. Quiet Saturday night at my house. Kids are with their mother at Legos movie. A few thoughts:

    1. The Russians are fuming over the disallowed goal. They claim Quick knocked the net off the moorings and should’ve been given a 2 minute penalty. Quick’ s LA King teammate, Russian Slava Voynov, told reporters he has seen Quick internationally do just that with the Kings.

    One thing with putting teammates on different rosters, dirty laundry and secrets might get aired.

    Weirdly, Bylsma says he was never told why the goal was disallowed.

    2. As wild as it seems, if Russia beats Slovakia tomorrow morning and Slovenia were to defeat the Americans in regulation time, in an upset for the ages, the United States would not get a bye to the quarterfinals. The Americans would be forced to play in the sudden death qualifying round. Dejan has noted that the population of Slovenia is less than Allegheny County.

    3. The Florida Panthers had 2 players in the Olympic tournament. Aleksander Barkov (Finland) and Thomas Kopecky (Slovakia). Both got hurt during the Olympics and will miss NHL games.

    Exactly why some NHL owners and GM’ s are opposed to their players competing in the Olympics.

    4. Canada and Finland play tomorrow after the Americans. Both teams are advancing with byes, but game will determine seeding in the quarterfinals. Should be entertaining, as well.

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