Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Boy, the Vancouver Canucks' home rink is going through a lot of name changes lately.
Up until like a week ago, the sign out front said "GM Place." Then at the start of the Olympics it said "Hockey Canada Place." And after the United States pulled out a thrilling 5-3 win over the host nation, the one which boldly (and adorably) considers hockey quote-unquote Our Game, it's probably going to say "Haha in your face hosers Place." Or at least it would if I was in Vancouver.
The result of the game was shocking, of course. I don't mean it's surprising that the US won or anything, but rather that Canada was only able to hold the far superior American squad to just five goals. And I know that some people up in the True North Strong [sic] and Free will be upset about the officiating last night, but come on guys, the refs can only help you so much before it starts to look suspicious.
People came into these games acting like Canada had the best team on paper, and I think it was nice that everyone patronized the host country like that. Sure, they stockpiled every NHL superstar to which they could lay hands and even let Eric Staal(notes) come along, but if we ever needed proof that the worst American is better than the best Canadian, let's just keep in mind that Chris freaking Drury had more goals than 17 of Canada's skaters combined. Somewhere in Tampa, Steven Stamkos(notes) is saying, "Well Jesus, I could have played that badly."
By the way, this game pretty much settles the debate over whether Sid Crosby is the world's premier player. He had a goal. So of course he's not. Brian Rafalski(notes) had TWO of ‘em and no one goes around acting like he's the best player alive (not that they shouldn't start). I wonder how much of that free health care those Canadians can't stop babbling about is going to be used on treating depression.
And for those wondering, I'm sorry, but I'm not counting Sid's first goal, a beautiful tip that beat his own goaltender cleaner than Brodeur's plate at every meal, as one for Canada. That just wouldn't be fair.
For a country that gets scoffed at in the Canadian media for "not getting" the sport, the good ol' US of A has sure make a nice little habit of kicking their polite little skulls up and down the ice over the past few months, eh? Maybe the few Canadians that haven't blocked out the World Juniors results with a healthy dose of Molson's and whatever rotten elk meat they can find under the nearest 12-foot snowbank can remind me of just how pretty John Carlson's overtime tournament-winner was; would you say it was majestic like Mount Rushmore or more beautiful like the promise of the American Dream?
And what can ya say about Ryan Miller(notes), huh? I mean I knew he was good before the Olympics started, but now, after giving up three goals on 40-plus Canadian shots? Inexcusable. From here on out Great American Coach Ron Wilson should accept nothing less than shutouts against cupcake opponents like this. Save the three-on-45 stuff for good teams like
Russia Sweden Finland ... well, somebody I'm sure.
Let's not forget, either, that Ryan Kesler(notes) called this months ago. "I guarantee that we'll beat the Canadians," he told Puck Daddy's handsome editor Greg Wyshynski. Don't give him too much credit though, he also "predicted" the sun would rise each morning.
But my final message is to our Canadian readers: Don't worry. You might still be able to finish higher than you did in the last Olympics. Sixth place isn't out of reach yet!
WHAT WE LEARNED (OLYMPIC EDITION)
(WWL will, for the remainder of the Olympics, try its best to dig up the most interesting scoop about each Olympic participant. However, I can't read most Eastern European languages, so you might be outta luck for some of the smaller countries.)
Belarus - In the Salt Lake City Games, Belarus snuck by Sweden in an elimination game, but Sweden avenged their loss on Saturday with a convincing 4-2 win. Said Matthias Ohlund after the game, "Ask Canada and Russia - there are no easy games." Don't bother asking the United States, their answer is yes.
Canada - NHL.com headline: "Crosby still optimistic about Canada's chances." I dunno though. Can't see how his team can stop the Lamoureux twins.
Czech Republic - Boy that Sunday afternoon game changed in an instant, huh? I thought the Czechs were going to at least force overtime but it turned from a nail-biter to laugher on the giddy up. The Czechs simply weren't able to compete with Russia's overwhelming physicality.
Finland - Friday night, Teemu Selanne(notes) broke the Olympics' all-time scoring record with an assist on a Kimmo Timmonen goal. He, Valeri Kharlamov, Vlastimil Bubnik and Harry Watson were previously tied with 36 points, but Selanne's 20 goals and 17 assists in just 28 games(!) is now the best ever.
Germany - Attention German team: I know you haven't won an Olympic game since 2002, but neither had Belarus. But how are you going to give up five goals to a team that also hasn't won since 2002 and only got 17 shots on goal?
Latvia - Yeah, it's a bad scene when a 6-0 loss to the Slovaks was tied for your team's worst defeat of the Olympics. A minus-15 goal differential? Ouch.
Norway - Like pretty much everyone other human being on the face of the Earth, I was hoping Tore Vikingstad would have a good Olympiad simply based on the awesomeness of his name. Imagine my surprise when he lived up to the hype I created in my head. A hat trick against a very tough Swiss team? Outstanding.
Russia - From the moment it was announced, you knew it'd be trouble. A line of Alex Ovechkin, Geno Malkin and Alex Semin. Ridiculous. Said Ovie, "How do I like [playing with Malkin]? If we were to put you on the line with him, you would like it too." And that was before the trio combined for six points against the Czechs.
Slovakia - Going through Google News just now I was a little befuddled by this headline I saw. "Slovakia go from dark horse to medal threat." Like, in hockey, they mean. Yeah, one win in regulation from three games against the Czechs, Russians and Latvians. Slow down.
Sweden - For those worried about Sweden's ability to seriously compete for a gold medal this year, well, let's just put it this way: they almost blew a three-goal lead against Belarus. Back-to-back golds doesn't seem too likely.
Switzerland - I thought the Swiss did a hell of a job in round robin play. They may have only beaten Norway in OT, but they pushed the Canadians to OT as well and looked very strong against the Americans. Hell, they even won over one of those "Hoc.. key?" reporters. A very big deal indeed.
PLAY OF THE WEEKEND
Like it was going to be anything besides Ovie-on-Jagr-into-a-goal.
GOLD STAR AWARD
Oh hey, Ryan Miller is the best goalie in the world? Sounds good to me, buddies!
MINUS OF THE WEEKEND
Canada. Shameful. Even before the Finland/Sweden showdown at midnight last night, they couldn't possibly finish fourth in group play. On home ice and everything. I'd feel bad for them if it wasn't so, so delicious.
God bless America!