Nightmare ending for Team Russia

•  Which leads you to also finger the coach, known as "Coach Bil." His bizarre decisions, including having Malkin on a second-unit power play that featured the likes of Nikolai Kulemin, well, that just made no sense. Not to mention limiting young NHL stars such as Valeri Nichushkin and Vladimir Tarasenko to fourth-line minutes. The coach's decision to start Semyon Varlamov in the quarterfinals over Sergei Bobrovsky was also a head-scratcher given that the reigning Vezina Trophy winner from Columbus had just shut out Norway the previous night.

By the time Varlamov was yanked three Finland goals later, it was clear what a blunder that had been.

•  And finally, you can't discount the pressure this team was under. A Norway player after Tuesday's game told us the Russians looked tight and appeared as though the last place they wanted to be was on the ice that night. Once they lost that game to Team USA on Saturday, a thriller of an affair, it's as if the weight of the host nation became unbearable for the Russian team to support. It gives you even more appreciation for the way Team Canada responded under similar conditions four years ago with an equally crazed hockey nation demanding nothing short of gold.

The Russians appeared to suffocate under the weight of it all.

Although not everyone.

One player on this roster nobody can reproach was the captain. Playing with a suspected injured knee, Pavel Datsyuk was easily the best player on his squad in this tournament, tying for the team scoring lead with six points (2-4) and a force on every shift. His linemates, KHL stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov, also had strong tournaments.

Most notably on this night, Datsyuk stood there and answered endless questions about his team's failure, in Russian and English, polite and patient throughout in his Wednesday postgame presser -- unlike some of his young star teammates, who bolted through the interview area as if they were late for a flight (Kovalchuk and Radulov among them).

"Inside I feel absolutely empty," Datsyuk said through an interpreter.

"Disappointed we lost with home advantage and we can't score today. Hard to win if you're not scoring."

Both on and off the ice, Datsyuk made Russia proud, and that shouldn't be forgotten in the rubble of this collapse.

And leave it to another classy veteran to put it in perspective. Finnish legend Selanne openly felt bad for the host team's nightmare end.

"I feel sorry for Ovi and the rest of the Russians because they had a dream to win the gold medal here in front of the home crowd," said Selanne, who scored what proved to be the game winner in the opening period.

"But in hockey, you never know. That's why it's so exciting because you never know what's going to happen. Tonight was a good example of that."

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