Team Canada defenseman Shea Weber
drew the biggest assignment of his career in Wednesday night's Olympic quarterfinal match against Russia at Canada Hockey Place. Simply, the Nashville Predators
defenseman was asked to help stop Alex Ovechkin
, the man many consider to be the best player in the world today.
Weber was paired with veteran Scott Niedermayer
on the blue line, and that duo hopped over the boards virtually every time Ovi and his linemates -- Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin
and Washington's Alexander Semin
-- hit the ice.
When it was over, Canada had won 7-3 to advance to Friday's semifinal against either Sweden or Slovakia -- and Ovechkin's line had finished with just one assist (by Malkin) and a minus-9 rating.
So consider it mission accomplished for Weber, who stopped by to chat exclusively with NHL.com after the game.
How important was it for you guys to get off to a fast start with all the pressure and hype that accompanied this game?
We knew it was huge, we knew they were a high-powered offense team. We wanted to jump out early and get that crowd behind us.
How about being assigned to play against Ovechkin?
That's a big challenge. That's the stuff you dream about as a kid, playing in those big situations against the best players in the world. It's not an easy task by any means, but I thought we did a good job as a team.
What did you do to contain Ovechkin tonight?
We talked about staying tight on him. You give him time and space and he's going to do a lot of good things with the puck. It's not just one guy; we had to be a good five-man unit, collapsing down low.
How about the job those three forwards -- Rick Nash
, Jonathan Toews
and Mike Richards
-- did against Ovechkin's line?
Fantastic! They came back and supported us off the rush -- really didn't give them a whole lot to do or a whole lot of room.