Friday, February 26, 2010

OLYMPICS: Precious Metal Awaits USA

Vancouver, BC - Be it gold or silver, the Team USA hockey team is guaranteed to be coming home with medals around their necks after destroying Team Finland earlier today at Hockey Place.

Some game notes and observations:

* In the thousands of games I've witnessed in the last 20 years I don't recall ever seeing a goalie pull himself from the game, but it sure appeared that way after the U.S. scored their fourth goal. Calgary Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff skated away from his Finish goal crease, he made a beeline for the bench and proceeded directly to the locker room. One of the strangest things I've seen during the Olympics. Like Russia on Wednesday, I would have bet the team was switching goalies when they called the timeout. Nope. They left him in there and the results were pretty much the same.

* Poor Dustin Brown. He's having a solid tournament, no complaints. Big hits, solid passes, the whole nine. But, damn - he can't buy a goal in the tourney so far. His line mates are cashing in, yet it's a big fat zero in the goal column for #32 after five games. Perhaps he's saving up for a big finish on Sunday.

* Jack Johnson on the other hand - he's reestablished himself as a rock solid dman. Doughty has deservedly taken the spotlight in LA over the last 18 months, but there is no doubt about it...Jack is on a mission to make a point here.

* I just can't say enough good things about Ron Wilson. I've had tremendous respect for many, many years. Heck, after the '96 World Cup he pretty much can do no wrong in my book. That said...he's found a way to take it to the next level. He has shown such patience and poise it's amazing. He's matched the guys up with line mates in ways that allows each of them to play their own game and play as a unit. Today he used the youth and speed of Team USA to dominate the experience of Team Finland. He deserves a ton of credit for getting the Americans to the game on Sunday.

* More on Wilson - nice move by the coach to put Tim Thomas in net for the third period. Obviously, the U.S. had the game in hand and it was a courteous thing to do - let the guy get some real action on the ice, after Ryan Miller had taken the team this far. Class all the way.

* And Wilson part 3 - taking nothing away from Terry Murray, just thinking back... the Kings fired Marc Crawford a few summers ago and looked around to see who was available to coach in LA. They hired Terry Murray. Either the next day or two days later the San Jose Sharks surprisingly fired Ron Wilson. Just think. If things had gone different by a few days, he PERHAPS could be the coach of the Kings. Again, taking nothing away from Terry Murray. He's doing a more than fine job. Just kinda reminds me of that movie Sliding Doors. Mere minutes one way or the other can change your life.

* The EuroKings are back for one more go at it tonight. Two funny stories about the last Slovakia game. One, I'm wearing an old school Slovakia Palffy jersey (when he was wearing #33, rather than the #24 he's wearing this time) and a guy walks by me in the lobby of Hockey Place - only seeing the number on my jersey - and says "Bad call, everybody hates Chara!" Then, during the next intermission a guy comes up to me as I'm leaving the restroom and says "Oh I love Ziggy, too bad this will be his last game in North America." I usually just ignore these type of people, but I turned and said "I think he has a few more in him." Thankfully, I was right. Slovakia downed the heavily favored Swedish team...or the Euro Red Wings if you prefer.

* Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson will have to battle one of their LA King teammates on Sunday for the gold. Will it be Doughty and Team Canada? Or will it be Michal Handzus and Team Slovakia?

* Can the EuroKings do it? Can Ziggy, Stumpy, Zues, Lubo and the gang rally one more time? It would be incredible on so many levels. To see Canada go down in flames would be crushing for the red leaf army. More importantly, to see the EuroKings play for the gold would be one of my personal high points of the tournament. And before you write me - yes, I'll be pulling for Team USA on Sunday regardless of their opponent.

* On Sunday - GO RYAN!

The Mayor

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