Kukla's Korner Hockey
via ESPN SportsNation poll...
As hockey fans, we may be only rooting for for one team.
Is it Team Russia or Team Czech Republic which starts just after 3:00pm ET on NBC &TSN?
from Chris Johnston of the CP at the Winnipeg Free Press,
Ryan Kesler was understandably hesitant when he first heard where the U.S. men’s hockey team would be putting on its equipment during the Olympics.
Normally, the Vancouver Canucks forward gets ready in a state-of-the-art dressing room that is the envy of many NHL teams. Now, he’s changing down the hall in a converted storage room in the bowels of GM Place.
But Kesler has been pleasantly surprised at how comfortable USA Hockey was able to make the space.
“It’s different, it’s a smaller dressing room but it still feels like home for me,” he said.
One of the little-known advantages Team Canada carries into Sunday’s game with the U.S. is the quality of its change room. The Canadians are occupying the swanky Canucks room - fresh off a multi-million dollar upgrade over the summer - while the other 11 countries competing here get ready in grittier surroundings.
It was one of the perks that came with the No. 1 world ranking Canada held when official Olympic seedings were determined back in 2008.
It looks to me like Slovakia’s hockey team is built around Marian Hossa. His dad is an assistant coach. His underachieving little brother is one of his linemates. He gets to wear 81, even though that should, by rights, be Miroslav Satan’s number.
This is a big mistake.
Hossa has never won anything, and I’m not even talking about the Stanley Cups he missed out on the last two years. He’s represented Slovakia 12 times in international play - two World Junior Championships, seven World Championships, two Olympics and a World Cup - and never won a single medal.
Satan, meanwhile, has led Slovakia to three medals in World Championships, including gold in 2002. He’s a much better role model for the youth of Slovakia.
-Jonathan Bombulie of the CitizensVoice. More on Olympic hockey…
from Sarah Kwak of Sports Illustrated,
The buzz around town surrounding what’s being dubbed “Super Sunday” is palpable. Team USA defenseman Tim Gleason got a taste of it the other day, when he was riding in a Vancouver taxicab, and his driver—evidently not much of a Carolina Hurricanes fan—struck up a conversation.
“You going to watch that game on Sunday, Canada vs. the U.S.?” the driver asked his fare.
“Should be a good game,” Gleason replied.
“Who are you rooting for?”
There was a slight pause before the 27-year-old Michigan native deflected, “Well, I’m not too much of a hockey fan.”
from Andrew Podnieks at IIHF.com,
Of course, it won’t be until later tonight we can definitely answer this question, but it might be that today is the single greatest day in Olympic hockey history (to this point). Three games. Three rivalries. Six teams that all want to win. Olympic hockey does not get better than this.
Credit must be given first and foremost to this new tournament format to create the first of three “super days” in a row. A quick summary shows the strengths of the new format. Three groups of four teams each play a round robin within each group. This is nothing new. But then all teams are placed in one standings of 12 teams. The top four receive byes directly to the quarter-finals, while teams seeded fifth through twelfth must face off against each other for the other four spots in the quarters.
This is the key element to the structure. Of course, the three top teams in each group will all get byes, but that fourth team could come from any group. The cynic might say the format is weak because no team is eliminated in the preliminary round. BUT, winning every game in this round is critical, and the format demands every team try to win every game by as many goals as possible, which is ideal.
continued plus a look at the games today…
from Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com,
Saturday, on the eve of a Group A title-deciding game against the host Canadians, young Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan talked eloquently about the impact the soldiers have had on his team by sharing their battlefield experiences.
“They talked about how much they come together with their brothers in battle and they alluded to the fact that we are a lot like them in that sense, but not at the grand scale,” Ryan said. “It’s very inspirational and we are glad those guys are behind us. It’s very inspirational and puts things in perspective for you.”...
Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown also talked about the impact the alliance with the United States military has had on the team.
As he talked, it quickly became clear that it was not merely lip service. Instead, there is a deep understanding of what it means to be an American and to represent the country—be it in armed combat or in athletic competition.
“We realize that our soldiers always have to go over into foreign soil and get the job done and they always do,” Brown said. “That is kind of our theme. We are on foreign soil and we have to get the job done.”
from John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
How can Olympic hockey not be more compelling than the mercenary version peddled by the NHL, a league that consistently ranks last among the four major sports in television ratings? Anyone who watched Canada’s thrilling shoot-out win over Switzerland could sense the obvious urgency and pressure.
That’s how it goes in the Olympics - the game feels more intense. When Chris Pronger (who is suiting up for the Canadians) was asked what might happen if he has a chance to unleash a punishing check on Flyers teammate Kimmo Timonen (who is playing for the glory of his fellow Finns), he didn’t hesitate. “Sucks to be him,” Pronger told The Inquirer.
The Olympics are like a hockey civil war - brother fighting brother in the name of emancipating our (or at least your) puck-loving souls. Then, when the last drop of blood is shed and the final biscuit has been fired into the basket, they will reunite for the good of the union.
Tell the truth: You’re a little verklempt, aren’t you?
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
On Saturday night, Czech fans held a mini-parade after Jagr and Friends had knocked off tiny Latvia. Several miles away on Davie St. in the west end, a tiny clutch of Finns carrying their national flag chanted, “Suomi, Suomi” as they began the long trek to Canada Hockey Place to see their heroes take on Germany.
Saturday afternoon, Norway and Switzerland staged a marvellously entertaining round-robin game that included a penalty shot in the opening minute, with the Swiss ultimately eking out a 5-4 overtime victory. The Norwegians, without a win so far, were understandably distressed, but that didn’t stop them from raising their gloved hands to applaud the fans as they departed the ice surface….
That is why, you see, Gary Bettman would be wise to tone down his we-may-not-want-to-do-this-anymore rhetoric a wee bit.
This is a hockey street party at which you don’t want to be seen as the guy who won’t move his car. If you don’t like this, you don’t like hockey, which is fine, of course, but hardly the stance one of the sport’s leading statesmen wants to be perceived as taking.
What is making this tourney soar — and an unforgettable conclusion will still be necessary to make it truly historic — is that there is flavour to this beyond the NHL, beyond what the colourless World Cup produces or even, for that matter, the occasionally exotic world championship.
This is the best of everything the game can offer from pretty much every nook and cranny of the known hockey universe. This is the pinnacle.
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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