"This is not merely a showstopper. This is a nation stopper," proclaims Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber on the much-hyped Canada-Russia showdown.
"This is Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. This is Hockey Night in Canada vs. Hockey Morning on the Volga. This is Mike Babcock vs. Slava Bykov, two of the best bench coaches in the world. This is 38 years of vibrant history, oozing respect and antipathy. This is consecutive victories by Russia over Canada in the past world championships, including in Quebec City in 2008. This is Malkin and Kovalchuk vs. Iginla and the Sharks Line. This is Roberto Luongo in his home rink, trying to prove he is a worthy successor to Martin Brodeur in Canada's goal. This is Pavel Datsyuk, the best defensive center in the world, trying to blanket the Crosby-Jarome Iginla-Eric Staal line."
"Sid vs. Ovie: The rivalry goes global," reads the headline to Craig Custance's preview in the Sporting News.
"We've seen them battle during the regular season. We've seen them square off in the playoffs. Now the rivalry between Ovechkin and Crosby hits new heights," Custance writes.
"From the global perspective, it is Canada vs. Russia, the hockey powerhouses most everyone had expected would collide for Olympic gold. From the Pittsburgh perspective, it will be Sidney Crosby vs. Evgeni Malkin," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic.
"For the Penguins' stars, this will mark the first time Crosby and Malkin have shared a rink as opponents since Jan. 4, 2005, when Canada beat Russia in the final of the World Junior Championships in Grand Forks, N.D.
"Malkin was asked earlier in the week if he would hit Crosby here.
"Yes, and not just once," he replied with a grin. "We've been playing together for four years, we won the Stanley Cup together, and we're friends. ... I would never wish him anything bad."
"Shades of '72," reminisces Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox.
"Math homework, domestic chores and work projects will come to a screeching halt Wednesday night as a nation already captivated by the 2010 Winter Olympics watches the latest installment in the storied Canada-Russia hockey rivalry. Just like it was 38 years ago in the legendary Summit Series when schools across the country let students watch the final games from Moscow. It's not a gold-medal game; it just feels that way."
"Behind every great Canadian hockey story are the evil Russians," writes Iain MacIntyre in the Vancouver Sun. "At least that's how it was until the Soviet Union's breakup, Team USA and the end of imperialism in hockey dimmed the old rivalry over the last 20 years. But tonight's titanic matchup between Canada and Russia, between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, between us and them, has the capacity to define what was once the fiercest feud in hockey for an entire generation of fans who have no vivid memory of the 1972 Summit Series and an old tournament called The Canada Cup.
"Canada has not beaten Russia at the Olympics since 1960. Nineteen sixty. For context, Fidel Castro was mopping up the Cuban Revolution and Francis Gary Powers' U2 spy plane hadn't yet been shot down when Canada beat the Soviet Union 8-5 in Squaw Valley on its way to a silver medal."
"It's just a dream matchup for everybody," Canadian defenseman Dan Boyle said. "Growing up as a kid, that was a huge rivalry. We're lucky to be part of it. Let's get it on."
The host nation's team isn't the only one feeling the pressure, reminds the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk.
"Imagine the intensity on Wednesday night, when a national hockey team tries to salvage its country's sub-par Olympics by keeping hope alive for an all-important hockey gold. We're not referring to Canada," Feschuk writes.
"The Russian Federation, as a whole, has struggled at these Games; they've won 13 medals, just three of them gold, this when expectations were for a Canadian-esque 30-some. With the Winter Games coming to Sochi in 2014, there's been outrage in various Russian political circles, including a demand for the resignation of the minister of sport.
"So on Tuesday, Vladislav Tretiak, the legendary goalie and general manager of Russia's hockey team here, was asked if a gold on the rink is required to make his country feel good about the health of their sports machine.
"This," said Tretiak, "is the case."
The U.S.-Switzerland quarterfinal, a rematch of opening game of the Olympic tournament in which the Americans posted a 3-1 victory, will offer another great goaltending duel between Ryan Miller (U.S./Buffalo Sabres) and Jonas Hiller (Switzerland/Anaheim Ducks).
Miller is the subject of a feature by USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen that chronicles his famous hockey family bloodlines.
"It can be said that Miller was born to play hockey, or at least that he was born into a family where hockey was a required course.
"The Miller family is like the Sutter family of the NHL," USA Hockey Assistant Executive Director Jim Johannson said.
"The Sutter family of Viking, Alberta, sent six brothers to the NHL. The Miller extended family has sent 10 players to play college hockey at Michigan State. Ryan Miller's grandfather Butch was the first to go to MSU, coming from Saskatchewan to play there from 1955-59. His brother, Lyle, followed, starting in 1961. Ryan's father, Dean, played at MSU from 1977-79.
"Lyle's sons Kelly (1981-85), Kevin (1984-88) and Kip (1986-90) all played at Michigan State and combined for 39 seasons in the NHL. Two other cousins, Curtis Gemmel and Taylor Gemmel, also played at Michigan State before East Lansing, Mich., native Ryan went there in 1999. Ryan's brother, Drew, followed in 2002 and now plays for the Detroit Red Wings.
"I'm starting to wonder if his heartbeat ever elevates," U.S. forward David Backes said. "He's cool, calm, collected. Even after that 42-save performance against Canada, we might have got a half of a smile out of him."