Posts tagged “Olympics”

USA (! USA! USA!) 5, Canada 3

What a game. Comparisons to the Miracle on Ice are a bit much, because the relative talent of the two teams is much closer than the Americans had to the Soviets back then, but still a huge win for the program.

It’s a real shame it got relegated to the ghetto of MSNBC and wasn’t on NBC. Did anything memorable even happen last night in figure skating or ice dancing or whatever? Maybe NBC wouldn’t have gotten the ratings had they put the game up, but that was just the kind of game that prospective fans in the States need to see. Oh well. Keep your focus on a sport that comes around once every four years rather than one you broadcast regularly, NBC.

I ended up opting to leave my computer at home when went over to a friend’s to catch the game in 52″ HD glory. I wanted to be able to enjoy the game without needing to tweet about it. But my fingers kept twitching throughout the game and I kept having to stop myself from looking for my laptop. Would have been fun to have been in on the Twittertalk for this one.

Anyway, bullet points follow.

Bullet points:

  • How sweet was it that the opening goal went in off Crosby? Doing the full-of-fail knee-and-extend-stick form of shot blocking that’s as sure to screw your goalie as it is to miss the puck entirely. Beautiful. I had to mention it.
  • Brian Rafalski has had a heck of a tournament and had a heck of a night. He was the beneficiary of some sweet luck on the Crosby goal and the Langenbrunner one later, but there’s no denying he’s got the hot stick. If he plays half as good as that for the Wings in March, it’ll go a long way.
  • Brodeur looked pretty bad. I’m a little surprised Babcock gave him that kind of leash. Obviously, the game didn’t get away from Canada at any point, really, but he looked shaky enough Babcock wouldn’t have been remiss to throw in Luongo. Especially after Marty tossed that puck up the gut and right to Rafi.
  • Miller was stellar. The three goals don’t look so hot, but considering what he was up against and the quality of scoring opportunities he faced, he was flat out awesome. He’s the single biggest reason the game went the way it did. I hope he has enough gas left in the tank to finish out the tournament on that note.
  • Corey Perry is a moron. I don’t know what he was looking at when he took out Staal and brought down Pronger. His presence on the team is laughable. I get that The Captain and Company wanted to keep lines together as much as possible, but Perry’s not worth it.
  • Say what you will about Crosby, but he definitely doesn’t lack intensity. Something Thornton and his friends do lack.
  • Kesler. I generally dislike Canucks, but his effort on that empty net goal was incredible. He had a strong game and capping it off with that was awesome to see. I love that he guaranteed a win over the Canadians and then made sure of it himself. That’s clutch.
  • Taking off my US hat and putting on my Red Wings one, it was a little disturbing to see Wilson outcoach Babcock.

The US’ chance for a medal shot up enormously with that win. It’s going to be an exciting tournament down the stretch, assuming they don’t fall from the emotional heights they hit last night and end up faltering. Keep the pedal to the metal, guys.

Sweden beats Finland 3-2, takes gold

It wasn’t quite the grudge match I was expecting but today’s gold medal game between Finland and Sweden was worth getting up at 8:00 AM on a Sunday morning for. Both teams played tight defensive games, especially in the first, which didn’t make it exceptionally exciting for long stretches but there were bursts of offense that came frequently enough.

The three Red Wing forwards played together for most of the game and were pretty effective. After the Finns took the 1-0 lead late in the first, the Swedes came back with a power play goal early in the second, scored by Henrik Zetterberg off a defenseman’s leg in the crease.

Less than 10 minutes later, Niklas Kronwall, again making good use of his short time in Torino, scored a nice power play goal himself from the high slot, giving his country a 2-1 lead.

The Finns didn’t take long to respond and soon it was tied again, 2-2. It stayed that way for the rest of the second period, which ended with both teams skating four aside. The third period began with Mats Sundin winning the faceoff at center and breaking Saku Koivu’s (I believe) stick in the process. This meant the Finns were down a player on the ensuing rush and it gave Nick Lidstrom a clear shooting lane to work with. He took full advantage and put the Swedes ahead permanently just 10 seconds into the period.

The Finns put up a strong effort to tie the game up toward the end but Henrik Lundqvist was strong and so was his defense. Sweden got its second gold medal in Olympic competition and five of our Wings will be returning to Detroit with that weird doughnut medal they hand out in Torino.

Or will they? Apparently, Nik Kronwall feels obligated to offer his gold medal to Mattias Ohlund, who’s rib injury caused Kronwall to be injected into the lineup, if the latter doesn’t get a medal:

“I think he deserved it more than I have. I came in and played two games. If we don’t end up getting another medal, I’m offering a medal.”

Yeah, Nik, you came in and played two games. You also played well and contributed in a very real way to your team’s victory. You earned it.

Congratulations, Nick, Tomas, Henrik, Mikael, and Nik! Get some rest, guys, and let’s repeat 2002 (and 1998), okay?

Our boys go for gold: Sweden advances to Olympic final

Swedish Wings combine for 5 points (1 G, 4A) in 7-3 win over Czechs in semi-final game.

Link

Update (8:39 PM): They’ll play their Scandinavian enemies the Finns, who beat the Russians today, in the gold medal game on Sunday. That is not the matchup I was hoping for. I don’t like the idea of our Swedish Wings getting involved in that particular grudge match, especially since both teams will try to do whatever it takes to win. The emotions will be even higher given what’s on the line.

Update (11:40 PM): Niklas Kronwall notched an assist in his first-ever Olympic game today against the Czechs and did it using one of Niclas Havelid’s sticks. According to Helene St. James, Nik’s equipment still hasn’t made it to Torino.

Ohlund out, Kronwall in

Ohlund will miss the rest of the Olympics (and beyond) with a rib injury, TSN says. The Swedish head coach, Ben Gustafsson, says he’ll put Kronwall in and pair him with Lidstrom. The Swedes play the Czechs in the semifinals tomorrow at 10:30 AM on MSNBC here in the US and CBC in Canada.

Update (6:38 PM): Helene St. James has more here:

Swedish coach Ben Gustafsson had Kronwall practicing with Lidstrom on Thursday, and afterward explained he liked the two together because one would have to be a raving lunatic not to. Or, as he actually explained it: It’s a good pairing because both are very good at reading plays and knowing when it’s time to jump up and join the rush.

Unsurprisingly, Lidstrom agreed. “Yes.” he said.

Lidstrom elaborated: “I think we’re similar in that aspect, that we both can jump up in the play at different times, we just have to read off one another so we both don’t go up there at the same time.” Lidstrom also allayed any thoughts that it would be hard for a player to jump right into an Olympic semifinal by pointing out that Kronwall did quite all right in his first game back with Detroit on Feb. 1, when he had a big hit on his first shift and two assists.

St. James also reports Nik has had trouble getting his equipment to Torino (mirroring the experience of his fellow Swedish Wings last week). He’s confident it’ll get there in time, though.

What a turnaround, eh? One day he’s watching the Games on TV, the next, he’s on a plane to Torino and not long after that, he’s practicing for the semifinal game against the Czechs. He deserves the chance at gold, after the year he’s had coming back from the knee injury. Good luck, Nik!

Also, head over to Abel to Yzerman, where IwoCPO’s got some comments on the Wings’ goaltending future and has posted what I’ll call the Quote of the Day, from our very own Pavel Datsyuk.

Pavel has a broken finger?

Kukla passes along a Russian report that says so. Not thrilling news, to be sure, though its less so now that it’s out in the open. Pavel’s hands will even more prime targets for NHL opponents now.

Update (23. Feb, 10:30 AM): A2Y quotes a Russian report that indicates Pavel broke his finger in one of the last couple games he played for the Wings before heading to Torino. He just didn’t tell anyone. Given the fact that he has 8 points (1G, 7A) through 6 games, I don’t think it’s effected him much.

Quote of the Day

From Helene St. James’ Hockey Diary:

A reporter asked Chris Chelios whether Sweden is a better team with Peter Forsberg. Chelios’ answer was vintage Chelios: “I would say ‘yes.’ He’s a pretty good player. Is this is a trick question?”

That is vintage Chelios. I can hear him say it. What a dumb question, seriously.

Nice to see the Freep get on the blog bandwagon. First it was the News’ Ted Kulfan “blog,” then Ansar Khan’s mLive-style blog and now we have Ms. St. James’. It’d be nice to see a links list from those three and maybe some more interactive functionality as well. Blogging is more than a format, guys, it’s a dialog. Want to join the conversation?