Kukla's Korner Hockey
Will the USA, Canada and Russia improve their record to 2-0 with victories today?
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
If only the Washington Capitals’ crack PR staff had been assigned to Ovechkin and the Russian national team. We’re pretty sure there wouldn’t be any carping. But it isn’t, and repeated requests for Ovechkin from the national media have fallen pretty much on deaf ears.
Now, the Olympics are a tricky business, between rights holders and who gets to stand where and who has to talk to whom first in the mixed zones (the penned areas where the media are held like much livestock—discuss amongst yourselves).
But the Russians, or Ovechkin himself, have decided to behave in a manner that is decidedly un-Olympic, speaking almost exclusively to the Russian media (we get that) and generally ignoring the rest of us (which we don’t).
Now, we’re not suggesting Ovechkin is Socrates on skates and we’re all the poorer for not knowing how he feels about the lines at the Hudson’s Bay Company or the ticket fiasco here or the food at the athletes’ village. But it shouldn’t be this big a hassle to get in front of a player who is arguably the best in the world playing in the world’s biggest tournament … should it?
from Dr. Michael Stuart of the Post-Bulletin,
The USA Men’s Olympic Hockey Team has developed a special relationship with our military and their families. Operation Homefront is a non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance and morale to our troops, to the families they leave behind and to wounded warriors when they return home….
Each USA player has been adopted by a wounded warrior from their home town, university or NHL city. They were informed that “you are not just playing for your country, but for your warrior as well”. A personal package was provided containing a letter of encouragement and various other items, even bullets taken from the soldier’s bodies to be placed in the player’s locker.
Brian Burke (Team USA General Manager) summed it up by saying that “the real heroes in America don’t wear hockey uniforms, they wear camo”.
from Miro Cernetig of the Vancouver Sun,
The secret leaked that the Olympians might be coming to the restaurant. David Sidoo, the bistro’s owner who had arranged the dinner for the team, had to be vigilant for gatecrashers.
“Word somehow got out,” said Sidoo, waiting at the door as the team’s bus drove up. “We had people saying they’re with Team Canada security, people said they have reservations, all sorts of things to try and get in.”
I knew hockey players were pretty good dressers. I never dreamed they were such foodies.
“These guys, they wouldn’t even be here tonight unless it was going to be good,” said Babcock.
The players have been ensconced in the Olympic Village, eating the same meals as other athletes. Babcock says they haven’t been attending events or spending much time in public, fearing it might take time away from game preparation and their concentration.
“I felt like a soldier in Iraq for the first 20 minutes. Things were coming at me so fast from every direction. It’s different hockey. I’ve got to get used to it again.”
-Jaromir Jagr of Team Czech Republic after defeating Slovakia last night. More on the game and Jagr from John Dellapina at NHL.com.
It was the lure of more Olympic gold that prompted Forsberg to attempt a comeback and earn a place on the Swedish national team he has led for almost two decades.
“It’s definitely great to be back playing against the best players in the world,” a smiling Forsberg told reporters after Sweden opened the defense of its title on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Germany. “I feel ok, it’s a work in progress.
“I played in the Swedish league, maybe 20 games this year and I’m scoring better-and-better every game.
“But at this stage of my career I don’t think I’m ever going to be really healthy again so I’m just going to do my best and see how it goes.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here but I’m still battling. Anytime you get the chance to play in an Olympics it’s the best thing you can do.”
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
U.S. men’s hockey coach Ron Wilson said Wednesday that the Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan Miller will be the starting goalie Thursday against Norway and throughout the Olympic tournament.
“Ryan will play every game unless something drastic happens,” Wilson said….
“This is the playoffs as far as I’m concerned,” Wilson said. “You usually go into the (NHL) playoffs with your hot goalie playing the last six weeks of the season and you don’t think during the playoffs I ought to give my backup some work because what if something happens to the starter.”
Game time is 7:30pm ET on CNBC and here are some notes on the game from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Total NHL players on rosters—Germany 7; Sweden 19
Puck Drop—“We haven’t been playing with each other for a long time and we only have two practices to get things back together, so it’s important to get a good start,” Zetterberg told NHL.com. “But, in the same way, the tournament really starts after the round robin. That’s how it was in Torino (in 2006). We didn’t have a great start of the tournament, but from the playoff games in we played good and that’s why we won.”
NHL.com predicts—Sweden wastes no time getting off to a good start by winning in a blowout
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics,
Every year, the International Ice Hockey Federation tweaks the format of the men’s Olympic hockey tournament and every year, it becomes more complicated - to the point where even the principal players aren’t exactly sure of how the tie-breakers work, or more importantly, whether they’ll need to run up the score on a hapless opponent to ensure a higher seed for the playoff round.
“I have read the rules,” said Brian Burke, Team USA’s general manager. “I went to Harvard law school and I’m not sure I understand them.”
Officially, the 12 competing teams are divided into three groups of four teams for the preliminary round and play a round robin, with three points awarded for a regulation win, two points for an overtime or shootout win, one point for an overtime or shootout loss and zero points for a regulation loss.
Here is a daily look at what’s being said about the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament.
• A statistical note after Day 1: Individual ice time figures are far below what we would see in a typical NHL game. According to stats at the IIHF website, only one Russian player hit 17 minutes (Konstantin Korneyev, 17:00), leading U.S. player was Erik Johnson (19:23), the leading Canadian player was Dan Boyle (20:12). There are 129 players averaging 20:12 or more in the NHL this season.
• Iginla on the standings tie-breaker: “It came up before the game. It came up between periods, because the goal differential may be a big part of this. We tried to stay focused as the game went on, for every line to keep pushing. Get a power play. We need those goals.”
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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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