Kukla's Korner Hockey
"I was almost disgusted by their performance when they played Finland. I look at the Finnish team and they're missing key players. They don't have any of their big stars and now [Rask] is hurt and that Russian team is stacked with great players and to come out and have that performance they had in the quarterfinals. It was an absolutely heartless performance.
"It was very disappointing and I don't think it's very good for hockey either to have them out of their home tournament. You wonder when you have Putin in the stands on home ice and you can't get heart out of these guys? What's going to bring it out? I don't know."
-Mats Sundin on Team Russia's play at the Sochi Olympics. More from Sundin at TSN.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
So everybody finally got the game they wanted, in all of its open-ice glory - Canada and the United States, in the men’s Olympic hockey semi-finals, and it lived up to all the hope and the hype. The pace was supercharged, the skill on display breathtaking. More than anything, it was a fearless brand of hockey, two teams confident in their respective abilities, and willing to test the limits of their opponents.
There weren’t a lot of goals, but scoring chances abounded. The respective goaltenders, Jonathan Quick for the United States and Carey Price for Canada, were in the zone.
Aesthetically, it surpassed the U.S.-Russia game earlier in the tournament and probably ranked right up there with the gold medal game, played between the same two teams four years ago in Vancouver.
In short, it was hockey, played the right way, and the only downside was, somebody had to lose and go home.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Has everyone regained their breath yet? As thrilling as Team USA's shootout win over host Russia was in the preliminary round, that game was a step behind the pace of Friday's sensational semifinal 1-0 victory by Team Canada over its North American rival. Quite the 24 hours for Canada over the U.S., eh? Ouch. What a game, though, at Bolshoy Ice Dome. You wish these two teams could play a best-of-seven.
Five things to know about the game:
1. The pace was outstanding. I mean, if this was the NHL every single night, I would do my job for free. It was breathtaking to see two great, evenly matched powerhouse teams go at each other like that, back and forth with so much speed and precision. For the most part, though, Canada dictated that pace and spent more time in the U.S. zone with an effective cycle and forecheck. It's clear that Canada was thrilled to be getting a chance to play some north-south, North American hockey after playing the likes of Latvia and Finland beforehand, both of those teams sitting back and forming a defensive shell around their goalie. This was Canada's kind of game and it showed in the comfort of its execution. The passes were crisper, the transition game more fluid, the decision-making more natural.
Team Canada will play Team Sweden on Sunday in the gold medal game, puck drops at 7:00am ET..
Team USA will play Team Finland for the bronze medal tomorrow at 10:00am ET..
You would think Canada would be the favorite but the game could come down to goaltending too, Lundqvist against Price.
I am looking forward to watching how it plays out.
added 4:42pm, The bronze medal game will be on NBCSN and CBC and the gold medal game on NBC and CBC.
The puck drops at 12:00pm ET today and can be viewed on NBCSN and CBC.
The winner will advance to the gold medal game on Sunday at 7:00am ET and face Team Sweden.
I invite you to join in on the discussion.
A late scratch for Team USA is defenseman Paul Martin, who according to USA Hockey is ill. Other reports say he was seen with a wrap/cast on his hand.
Justin Faulk will replace Martin.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
The most exclusive club in Sochi is not in the city. It is not in the Olympic Village, where the athletes have their own hot spot to relax and socialize. It is tucked inside the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
There are two ways in: You can walk from the dressing room area down a red carpet, or you can squeeze through a nondescript gate in the Olympic Park right across the from the flame, if you know the gate is there.
But there are only two ways to get in: Be an NHL Olympian. Know an NHL Olympian.
This is the PA Lounge, a little upscale sports bar like you might find in, say, Toronto. It is one of two sanctuaries the NHL Players’ Association set up for its members, families and friends during the Olympics. The other is the PA House, an event tent with food, beverages and even a live band at the Bridge Resort, where families and friends are staying nearby.
from Andrew Podnicks of IIHF.com,
The IIHF study comparing 2006 and 2014 Olympics to the 2008 World Championship (Quebec City and Halifax, NHL ice) and 2010 Vancouver shows that scoring chances are 3.7 times more frequent on the smaller ice.
What’s the difference? Many factors.
The most obvious is the simple fact that the European surface is 15’ wider, but there’s a much more important and more subtle reason as well. The IIHF standard is to divide the rink into three zones of equal length: the area from the end red line to the blue line; between the blue lines; from the blue line to the end red line at the other end.
The NHL is less symmetrical. Its end red line, for instance, is only 11’ from the end boards while the IIHF is 13’. The NHL believes the area behind the goal line is not particularly conducive to creating offence, and numbers suggest it’s right.
Even more significant, the NHL blue line is 64’ to the end red line but the IIHF blue line is only 58’ to that line.
What does this translate to? Quite simply, the offensive zones in the NHL are narrower and longer. The total square footage is 5,440. In the IIHF, the area is wider and shorter, totalling 5,800 sq. ft.
more (written before today's early semifinal game)...
I think he can leave out the word "if".
Puck drops at 7:00am ET and can be viewed on NBCSN and TSN.
Winner will advance to the gold medal game on Sunday, 7:00am ET to face the winner of the USA/Canada game which starts at 12:00pm ET today.
Feel free to discuss the game and again, enjoy.
Gary Bettman was on with the NBC Sports Group today and did an interview with Al Michaels.
I am not sure if all these quotes are from the interview but that really doesn't matter, what he says does.
via a press release from NBC,
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the men’s hockey tournament: “It’s been a terrific tournament so far, the hockey has been good, it’s been fun, it’s been entertaining and I think we have two great semifinal matchups.”
Bettman on whether he was surprised by the outcome of Russia v. Finland yesterday: “Not shocked. There’s a reason we play the games, you never know what’s going to happen. You could feel the air come out of the [hockey arena], actually you could feel the air come out of the whole area here. I know that it’s terribly disappointing for the Russian players and for the entire country because they take great pride in the history that Russian hockey has.”
Bettman on whether a lack of coordination between the players, who have not had much time playing together, is to blame for Russia’s loss: “The remaining four teams don’t seem to be relying on that excuse. In the days of amateur hockey people tend to forget that the Russian team was completely professional. That’s what made the ‘Miracle on Ice’ such a miracle because you had a bunch of college kids who came together to defeat a professional team.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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