Montreal Canadiens: Looking Back at How Habs Performed at Previous Winter Olympics

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23: Carey Price #31. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23: Carey Price #31. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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VANCOUVER, BC – FEBRUARY 21: Tomas Plekanec of Czech Republic. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC – FEBRUARY 21: Tomas Plekanec of Czech Republic. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

2010: Vancouver, Canada

The Olympics returned to North America in 2010 and to the smaller ice surface that NHL players are familiar with using. This was supposed to help Canada and the United States the most, but the Habs didn’t have a single player representing either country.

They still had four European players at the event, representing four different countries. Though Jaroslav Halak and Sergei Kostitsyn were playing for teams with long odds heading in, no one would have been surprised if Andrei Markov or Tomas Plekanec were able to go on a deep run.

That’s not quite how it turned out.

Jaroslav Halak

Halak was playing in just his second full NHL season, and was battling Carey Price for playing time. This was the season where Halak would eventually take over the crease and lead the Habs on an improbable run past the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

We didn’t know that in February, but his performance was a bit of a forerunner for what he was about to do in Montreal. Slovakia started off losing 3-1 to Czech Republic before bouncing back with an upset victory over Russia, 2-1 in a shootout. Then they shutout Latvia in a 6-0 dominant victory.

Slovakia snuck by Norway in the Qualification Round and Halak was great in a surprising win over Sweden in the Quarterfinals. Canada edged past Slovakia in the semifinals, and then Finland took out Slovakia in the bronze medal game, leaving Halak without a medal.

Sergei Kostitsyn

An injury knocked the more proven Andrei out of the Olympic Games, but it gave the small but skilled Sergei a chance to show his talents on a big stage. Kostitsyn and Ruslan Salei were the only two NHL players on the roster, so Belarus was not expected to win much – if at all – in Vancouver.

Belarus started out by losing 5-1 to Finland and 4-2 to Sweden. To keep the team from going winless at the tournament, Kostitsyn scored once and assisted on three more against Germany to lead Belarus to a 5-3 victory. This led to Belarus playing Switzerland in a Qualification game, and they lost 3-2 in a shootout.

Andrei Markov

Markov had proven by this time to be one of the best two-way defencemen in the NHL. Russia entered the tournament with tons of firepower up front – like usual – and a trio of solid goaltending options in Evgeni Nabokov, Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Bryzgalov.

They started with an easy 8-2 victory over Latvia, before losing in a shootout to Slovakia and then beating Czech Republic by a 4-2 score. This gave the Russians a bye to the quarterfinals where they were stomped by Canada, 7-3. Markov ended the event with two assists in four games.

Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec was at the top of his game in the 2009-10 season, finishing the year with a career high 70 points. Entering this tournament with a chance to play with Jaromir Jagr put pretty high expectations on the Habs two-way centre.

The Czech’s opened with wins over Slovakia and Latvia. Plekanec scored on Halak in the 3-1 win over Slovakia and added an assist in an easy win over the Latvians. Plekanec scored again as Czech Republic lost 4-2 to Russia to close out the preliminary round.

Plekanec would face Latvia again in the Qualification Round and squeeze by with a 3-2 overtime win. Then, his team fell flat in a 5-1 loss to Finland in the Quarters, with Plekanec closing out the tournament with two goals and an assist in five contests. This also left Halak as the lone Hab standing going into the semifinals and he would not earn a medal either.