Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Here's a look at some of the highs and lows of the tournament:
Biggest Bust (team) -- Russia
The host nation didn't necessarily wilt under the pressure of playing on home ice, but had a game plan ill-equipped to face the international competition.
Defensively, the Russians were a disaster, shocking really given the demands of that aspect of the game on the bigger ice surface. Offensively, there was little relief either as Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Russian snipers.
Not that the Russians have been a force in recent years, but Sochi was supposed to be a chance to change those fortunes. Instead, the Russians bowed out in the quarterfinal. The scene following that lose was wild as Russian reporters lashed out at the coach and players.
Players of the Tournament
1. Erik Karlsson
The Swedish defenceman, so familiar to Ottawa Senators fans, has been a standout from the outset, a big part of his country's surge to the gold medal date with Canada....
What's your gut/heart/brain telling you, Canada or Sweden in the men's gold medal game tomorrow?
I am torn, my head tells me Canada but my gut says Sweden. If forced to make a decision, I say Canada with a late goal from Getzlaf.
via Adam Steiss of IIHF.com,
During the tournament the officials have been evaluated by officiating managers including Konstantin Komissarov (IIHF) and Terry Gregson, former Head of Officiating for the National Hockey League, and six others (four IIHF, three NHL). The process by which the officiating crews are selected for the playoff round is determined by their performance in the preliminary round. For the medal games, the officials chosen were judged to deserve these assignments based on their performance in the playoff round.
“The main factor of the selection of these officials has most of all to do with their experience officiating in high-level competitions,” said Komissarov. “These include Stanley Cup playoffs, World Championship competitions, and Olympic competitions."
“Their nationalities aren’t considered as factors nor should they be, we want the best officials working the medal games,” he added. “We are fully confident that with their experience and professionalism these officials will do their job well and preserve the integrity of the game.”
The video is just under 15 minutes.
Finland 5, USA 0
SELANNE, RASK HELP FINLAND CAPTURE BRONZE MEDAL
Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks) scored two goals – including the game-winner – and Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins) made 27 saves – and also denied two penalty shots – to lead Finland past the USA in the bronze-medal game.
With the victory, Finland became the only men’s hockey team to medal in four of the past five Olympic Winter Games (since 1998). It has captured one silver medal and three bronze medals in that span, failing to medal only in 2002.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Dustin Brown was a force for the Los Angeles Kings when they won a Stanley Cup in 2012 and won a silver with the U.S. four years ago. But apart from a sterling effort against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, this was a difficult tournament for the Kings captain, who happened to be on the ice for the first two Finland goals. He played 26 seconds in the second period and just 1:17 in the third.
"I'm not happy about it," Brown said. "It's the coach's job to figure out the best chance to win. If that's what he thinks is ... I'm a player, he's a coach, that's how it works."
Brown was among a core of players whose experience in Vancouver was supposed to help this team avoid this kind of disappointment.
"It's definitely not a pretty sight. The score's obviously not pretty at all," Brown said. "It's hard to explain. I don't really have an answer for you, quite honestly."
Brown was asked if the U.S. quit.
"I don't think we quit," Brown insisted.
If they didn't quit, they sure did unravel, as the Finns pumped three goals by Quick in the third period, two on the power play as the frustrated Americans paraded through the penalty box.
"Yeah, we did collapse," offered U.S and Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "We had a great first period, we were all over them, had a couple of good chances, couldn't get one by him and it ended up costing us."
Game time is 10:00am ET and can be watched on NBCSN and CBC.
I am not sure what kind of game to expect, but if it does turn to be a wide open game, the advantage would go to the USA.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Both Sweden and Canada put the majority of their game plan emphasis on defending. It's why they're both in the gold-medal game.
This isn't the NHL over here.
"It's a different sport," Sedin said. "You can't even compare them. Everyone thinks because it's a bigger ice, it should be more open. I think teams are playing more defensive than ever."
As such, expect a low-scoring game Sunday. Which should not be confused with boring.
I think we're in for the best hockey game of the year, on either side of the ocean.
And for Team Canada, a chance to make it three gold medals in five NHL Olympics.
"It's about hockey supremacy," Babcock said Saturday. "We like to brag that it's our game? If you think it's your game, you better show it's your game."
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
The team’s inability to win gold and beat Canada in a knockout showdown cannot be blamed on the omission of any single individual from the final roster. This Canada 1, USA 0 day is not a result of Bobby Ryan, Kyle Okposo, Brandon Dubinsky, Jack Johnson or Keith Yandle having been left at home.
The US needs to apologize to no one. The US just somehow needs to get a little bit better … or perhaps to add a killer instinct against Canada.
There was ’96 in the World Cup. That’s it. That’s the sum and substance of United States best-on-best hockey victories over Canada with it all on the line. There was ’96 and still only ’96 after a day on which the lads could not score against Canada that came a day after the lassies could not protect a 2-0 lead against Canada.
Big brothers to the north. Big sisters, too.
And time to wait until the Americans get their next shot at overturning the natural order.
Perhaps we, as a nation, should be reassured. We don’t always win. We lose the world juniors now; we could still lose the Olympics. But nobody produces players the way we do that are willing to be this sort of team. It’s been written before, and it’s true: Canada is the red army now, rolling over Russia in wave after wave. One more to go.
-Bruce Arthur of the National Post on Team Canada. More on yesterday's game at Canada.com.
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