Kukla's Korner Hockey
“The exciting thing about these Olympics is having them in Vancouver. It’s hockey, hockey all the time, and it’s a great atmosphere.”
-Teemu Selanne of Team Finland. More on Teemu, who is playing in his last Olympic games, from Mark Whicker of the OC Register.
from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,
“Coming here today and seeing all this,” said Zach Parise, nodding toward the swarm of media. “The nerves start to creep in.”
There’s only one way to remove those nerves.
“You almost just want to start the game and let the nerves relax a little bit,” he said.
After months of anticipation, they finally get that chance.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
This time, with only three round robin games, it was assumed Brodeur and Luongo would split the first two games, but that Brodeur, almost as a courtesy, would start the opener. Instead, he gets the tougher opponent in Switzerland, with the really complicated choice being who starts next Sunday against the United States.
“No, I wasn’t surprised,” Brodeur told the Star. “I’m going to play the next game (against the Swiss). More of a challenge for the coaches will be who plays after that.”
Babcock didn’t really explain his choice, mumbling something about Luongo being a Vancouver Canuck, and something else about Brodeur having played so much this season – he’s appeared in 58 of New Jersey’s 61 games – that he might be able to use a couple of days off.
Maybe. More likely is that Brodeur is already slotted to get the game against the Americans and would face a four-day layoff if the games against Norway and the Swiss were flipped. But we’ll see.
The second surprise unveiled by Babcock on Monday was having Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, a player who wasn’t even invited to the summer camp in Calgary, skating alongside centre Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash on what is expected to be Canada’s top line.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Even after his major knee operation in October, Johan Franzen had a gut feeling that he was going to be in Vancouver for the Olympics.
“I didn’t book a vacation trip,” he said Monday after Team Sweden’s practice.
Maybe not, but he also didn’t find out officially until 11 o’clock Sunday morning that he would be part of Team Sweden.
Franzen, who is four months removed from surgery for a torn ACL, is here because his teammate in Detroit, Tomas Holmstrom, can not be as his Olympics were derailed by nagging foot and knee injuries.
“I waited until the last day and I finally got the call,” Franzen said. “I wanted to believe it (that I would be in the Olympics).”
from the CP at CTVOlympics,
The 40-year-old forward appeared to be just as loose and relaxed as the players around him on the eve of the Olympic tournament. He was clearly enjoying himself on the ice during Monday’s practice at Canada Hockey Place and was cracking jokes afterwards.
“I’m just delighted to be around those guys and have fun,” said Fedorov. “If you want to be part of the group, you have to goof off too sometimes.”
Fedorov is five years older than anyone else on the Russian team. He’s back for his third Games and is painfully aware that his country hasn’t won Olympic gold since 1992, but doesn’t believe it’s much of a distraction for the young stars.
“I don’t think anybody on the team thinks about when we won last time Olympics and stuff because we’re having too much fun,” said Fedorov.
“I’m the happiest guy here, that’s for sure.”
“When it first happened it was one of the scariest things I’ve been through. And it was one of the hardest things I’ve done. The last week hasn’t been easy and I’m so relieved just to get on the ice with the guys again.”
Ryan Getzlaf of Team Canada. A bit more on Team Canad from Helene Elliott of the LA Times.
from Neil Campbell of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics,
Generations tend to mix and meld in international hockey these days and the proof comes Tuesday when the United States opens the men’s Olympic hockey tournament against Switzerland, with a top line that features Paul Stastny playing between Zach Parise and Patrick Kane.
And if the first two surnames sound familiar, well, there is an explanation for that. Parise’s father, J.P., played for Canada in the seminal 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. Stastny’s father, Peter, played for Czechoslovakia during the 1980 Olympics on the team that lost early to the Americans during their magical Miracle on Ice run.
That two players - one of Slovak heritage, one of Canadian - now play for the Americans is an indication how bloodlines matter more in hockey than in almost any other sport. It also points to an explosive growth in the game below the 49th parallel, to the point where the American team, despite its loud insistences to the contrary, could pose a significant threat in the 2010 Olympic competition.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
San Jose coach Todd McLellan didn’t want to simplify it too much, but he did anyway. Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have chemistry because, as McLellan told NHL.com, “Jumbo (Thornton) is a passer, Patty is a skater and Dany is a shooter.”
That’s why you’ll likely see that trio together in Canada’s opener Tuesday against Norway at Canada Hockey Place.
“It maybe is a little bit unfair to simplify their games the way I just did,” McLellan added. “Their tool box is full, each of them, and that allows them to play a speed game, a grinding game, a finesse or a passing game because each has those tools. If you want to simplify the line, you have a passer, a skater and a shooter. That’s why it works.”
from Lucas Aykroyd at IIHF.com,
It is, of course, unfair to label 2010 the “Ovechkin versus Crosby Olympics”, because hockey is a team sport. But these are both players that have the ability, not just to make a play that changes a game, but to go ahead and impose their will on the game.
However, the captain of the Washington Capitals and his Pittsburgh Penguins counterpart achieve their goals in such different ways.
It’s hard to pin down intangible qualities that make a star what he is. But if I had to try, I’d say that Ovechkin’s success stemly mostly from passion, whereas Crosby’s mostly reflects his drive. (Their skill sets both go without saying, and they have both diversified their games to the point where the old “Ovechkin shoots, Crosby makes plays” label is no longer adequate.)
One dictionary defines passion as “a powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger”. And that’s what you see every time Ovechkin steps on the ice. He’s blowing kisses and throwing himself into the boards when he scores goals. He gets angry when his team falls behind and spurs himself to play better. A classic example occurred in Washington’s come-from-behind 5-4 OT victory over Pittsburgh on February 7, where Ovechkin led the way with a hat trick.
The same dictionary defines drive as “the trait of being highly motivated”. To that, you might add “focused” in Crosby’s case.
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