Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Dustin Brown banged in a go-ahead goal late in the first period, and the United States went on to dominate the Czech Republic 5-2 on Wednesday, earning a spot in the Olympic men's hockey semifinals for the second straight time.
On Friday, the U.S. will play Canada -- a rematch of the 2010 gold-medal game -- for a shot to become an Olympic champion. The Canadians held off Latvia 2-1, and they beat the Americans in overtime four years ago.
"It's a great opportunity," American forward Max Pacioretty said. "They're obviously the favorite coming into the tournament, and we've opened up a lot of eyes with our play, but we have more in the tank to give and to show.
"We keep getting better every game, and hopefully we'll keep getting better after this one."
Mike Babcock, coach of Team Canada and Ted Nolan, coach ofTeam Latvia, met with the media for just over 13 minutes after Canada's 2-1 win.
You can watch it below...
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
For two-plus periods, Canada pressed and pushed and otherwise ran up an impressive shot total against a Latvia goaltender you’ve probably never heard of - Kristers Gudlevskis - and managed to get just the one goal past him.
It was 1-1 with time winding down in the third period and they were maybe starting to believe in miracles in Riga.
Alas for the plucky Latvians, it didn’t happen.
Shea Weber’s power-play goal with about seven minutes to go in the third gave Canada a heart-stopping, gut-checking 2-1 win and a berth in the semi-finals against the United States.
Canada is trying to win its first Olympic championship outside of North America in 62 years and the 11th seeded Latvians, who’d lost their first three games in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament, seemed like an unlikely stumbling block. But they hung on with relentlessly determined defence, often having five forwards within arm’s length of Gudlevskis and closing off shooting lanes left, right and centre.
First semifinal game will be Finland vs. Sweden at 7:00am ET and can be viewed on NBCSN in the US and TSN in Canada.
The second game is USA against Canada at 12:00pm ET on NBCSN and CBC.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
• The failure of the KHL and NHL players on the roster to blend into a cohesive team was clear and apparent. There were rumors in the past few days of tension in the Russian camp, and at the heart of it was the KHL-NHL issue. Why in the world was Alexander Popov playing on the top line with Ovechkin and Malkin the past two games? Why was KHL defenseman Evgeni Medvedev among the leaders in ice time on the team, playing more than NHLers such as Fedor Tyutin and Alexei Emelin?
Why? Because the KHL and Russian hockey hoped to use the world's biggest hockey games as a propaganda tool for the Russian professional league that vies to rival the NHL. Well, that was a complete and utter disaster.
• Which leads you to also finger the coach, known as "Coach Bil." His bizarre decisions, including having Malkin on a second-unit power play, which featured the likes of Nikolai Kulemin, well, that just made no sense.
more including the coach calling out Ovechkin...
Two games at 12:00pm ET today and the winner of each of these games will play each other in the semifinals on Friday.
USA vs. Czech Republic on USA Network and TSN2 while Canada vs. Latvia on MSNBC and CBC.
Enjoy ahd feel free to discuss the games.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Russia’s high-end players rank with the best in the world, but the talent falls on the bottom end of the roster and when players such as Ovechkin couldn’t find their offensive stride in the tournament, there really wasn’t anybody there to pick them up.
Kovalchuk had the first-period goal for the Russian, but Juhamatti Aaltonen and the ageless Teemu Selanne erased that lead. Selanne had become the oldest player to score a goal in Olympic history five days ago, and he tweaked that record with what turned out to be the winning goal.
It isn’t clear what the long-term implications for Russian hockey of this setback will be. If they had played well up until this point and just had an off night, it might be one thing. But they were listless and unfocused throughout and when they had opportunities, Rask was there with the answers.
“It’s hard to win if you do not score,” said Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk, who described Rask as a “good goalie” but said the Russians didn’t do enough to get in his face.
“But we make it easy. We make not enough traffic in front of him, and not shoot a lot.”
Puck will drop on Thursday at 12:00pm ET on NBC and CBC.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
One of the keys to the USA's unbeaten record heading into Wednesday's quarterfinal game against the Czech Republic has been its devilish playing style. The players are playing like the fire down below.
RUSSIA: Radulov leads victory against Norway
Centers David Backes and Ryan Kesler have been monstrous forces. U.S. coach Dan Bylsma wanted this team to be hard to play against, and Backes and Kesler have stormed around the ice like human tornadoes.
On one shift against Russia, Backes rubbed out Evgeni Malkin and Ovechkin with clean legal hits.
Bear wrestling seems easier than facing Kesler in this tournament. He has hit, bumped or growled at every opponent he has faced in the USA's first three games.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
from Mike Imrem of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
The league always is looking for a way to make January and February relevant, a series of outdoor games being the latest concoction.
Here’s the solution: Bah-bah, Olympics, bye-bye.
Then set aside six weeks in the dead of winter and make the break more useful by annually or every couple of years playing an Olympic-style tournament in cities around North America.
The first week would be to gather players for practice. The final week would give them an opportunity to unwind.
The middle four weeks would feature a compelling international tournament at home.
Players who want to represent their native lands — though not enough to enlist in the military, by the way — still would be able to wave their flags.
Fans in places like Chicago who are addicted to attending hockey games would get rivalries like U.S.-Canada instead of Blackhawks-Blues.
NHL owners would lose revenue from maybe a dozen fewer regular-season games but get it back in more lucrative TV contracts and bloated ticket prices for the tournament.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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