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For Ovi, will taste of defeat linger or inspire?

by Brian Duff
When you see familiar faces
But you don't remember where they're from
Could you be wrong?

When you've been particular places
That you know you've never been before
Can you be sure?

'Cause you know this has happened before
And you know that this moment in time is for real
And you know when you feel déjà-vu

Feel like I've been here before
Feel like I've been here before
Feel like I've been here before
Feel like I've been here before

Chances may be slim that Alex Ovechkin has ever heard this mid-80's "gem," "Déjà-Vu," from Iron Maiden's album "Somewhere in Time." (Curiously released in 1986, one year after Ovechkin was born, one year prior to someone who sports 87 on his back)

But chances are also slim that anyone could have fathomed "The Great 8," for the second time in nine months, would be on the wrong side of a shocking, embarrassing, uncompetitive loss in an elimination game, with arch-rival Sidney Crosby on the other side.

The venue may have changed, along with most of the other names involved, but Feb. 24, 2010 -- a 7-3 loss for Russia vs. Canada -- had to feel eerily similar to May 13, 2009, a 6-2 loss in Game 7 vs. Pittsburgh, for the Washington Capitals' captain, who remains an Olympian without a medal.

As we've been reminded time and again throughout this incredible and unpredictable tournament, there is very little to be gained by extensive post-game analysis of these teams, win or lose.

Few trends hold from one game to the next, and trying to convince you to expect the unexpected requires an imagination far greater than mine.

So, we look forward, and wonder what kind of impact a game like this will have on Ovechkin, and his DC running mate Alex Semin.

The 14-game Washington winning streak must seem like forever ago for them, having lost three-straight heading into the Olympics, and followed by a letdown matched only by the landmass that is the motherland.

Will the taste of defeat linger or inspire?

They've yet to indulge in a springtime sipping session with Stanley, like Russian teammates Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov and Sergei Gonchar.

And then there's Evgeni Nabokov, last seen dangling in the wind thanks to his coach, Slava Bykov. At age 34, with far fewer chances remaining to fulfill his Stanley Cup dream, how is he affected by this quarterfinal calamity?

How are the Sharks affected by it? Did they really need this outcome, at this time, in yet another season when this is supposed to be their year?

For all the time spent hoping that Olympic injuries wouldn't hamper a teams' push to the playoffs, I hadn't really considered the psychological hazards of a devastating defeat.

In the meantime, the stage is set for semifinal action at Canada Hockey Place.

USA vs. Finland.

Ryan Miller vs. Miikka Kiprusoff

In their only head to head meeting this season, Miller's Sabres prevailed 2-1 in a shootout over Kiprusoff and the Flames

Canada vs. Slovakia

Sidney Crosby vs. Marian Hossa

Déjà-Vu anyone?

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