Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
NHL referee Brad Watson sits down with Heidi Androl to discuss the adjustments on-ice officials need to make while working the Olympic Games.
from RIA Novosti,
Former NHL star Vyacheslav Fetisov said he was impressed with high-level hockey being performed at the Vancouver Olympics and was unable to name a possible champion.
Fetisov, who heads the board of Continental Hockey League (KHL), arrived in Vancouver following an invitation by the International Hockey Federation, which would honor Olympic, world and Stanley Cup champions in the Canadian city on February 22.
The two-time Olympic champion said he followed closely Vancouver hockey matches before arriving in Canada.
“Those six teams which I observed in their first two matches are quite equal. I did not expect many teams here to perform such a [high] level [hockey],” Fetisov said.
continued and what are the chances the networks of NBC will show some highlights of the IIHF event…
Sources tell TSN Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski was taken into custody on Friday night following an altercation in a Vancouver bar.
Grabovski, an injured member of the Belarussian team was later released.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
The National Hockey League is aware of the incident, however the League will not pursue anything or take any action until such time all information is in and completed by Vancouver police.
from Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Compare rosters, experience and the overwhelming home-ice advantage and there aren’t many areas you can point to heading into Sunday’s Canada-USA game that favor the Americans. But that’s not to suggest the U.S. has no chance. Here are five keys to an American upset—and five reasons why Canada has the upper hand.
Keys to a Team USA win:The boys down the middle
OK, on one hand, the Canadians will roll out centers Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton and either Jonathan Toews, Mike Richards or Patrice Bergeron. The Americans? Well, let’s just say the Americans figured to be thin down the middle, and there’s a ton of pressure on their top two centers, Joe Pavelski and Paul Stastny, to deliver big games Sunday. Pavelski, playing with Ryan Malone and Phil Kessel, has already enjoyed a nice start to this tournament and his line has provided much-needed scoring depth.
“We’re the enemy tomorrow. It’s going to be a hostile, crazy crowd for Canada, and that’s the way it ought to be.It’ll be a zoo in here. An important part of being a successful team is for our team to manage that.”
“As tough as that might be on our young players, the pressure’s not on our team tomorrow. The pressure’s on Canada.”
-Team USA General Manager Brian Burke. More on tomorrow’s game with Team Canada from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy.
from Brian Friedman at Forbes,
The hawkish features of goalie Vladislav Tretiak turned soft and he smiled slightly as he was reminded of the painful anniversary. But he brushed the memory aside as easily as one of the many thousands of shots he turned away in his Hall of Fame career.
“It’s fine with me,” Tretiak said in an interview with The Associated Press at the nondescript East Vancouver community rink where the Russian Olympic team is practicing. “It’s a big number, but of course it’s 30 years ago.”...
“It was difficult for me to sit on the bench with the score 2-2,” said the Hall of Fame goaltender who won three Olympic gold medals and was part of 10 world championship Soviet teams. “If I played the second and third period, the game might have turned a different way.”...
Tretiak said he never got an apology from Tikhonov for what many regard as the key blunder that gave the game to the Americans.
“Tikhonov wrote in his autobiography that it was the biggest mistake of his life,” the goaltender said.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics (Sunday edition),
For Wilson and his Canadian counterpart, Mike Babcock, today’s games presents multiple bench coaching opportunities; given how familiar the players on their respective teams are with one another.
It isn’t just Kane against Toews; it is Kane against face the defensive pair of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, fellow Blackhawks’ teammates as well. The San Jose Sharks’ Joe Pavelski could easily be the centre Wilson deploys to check his NHL teammates - Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau - Canada’s most productive line thus far.
And Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenceman Brooks Orpik may draw the unenviable task of playing against Sidney Crosby, Canada’s assistant captain, who he faces every day in practice.
Kane, for one, hoped that he could exploit his insider knowledge of the Blackhawks’ defence pair.
The other teams in this tournament do not suck, they are really good.
Watch more from Team USA coach Ron Wilson.
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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