Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 02/22/10 at 01:35 AM ET
On Sunday, Ryan Miller stood on his head, making 42 saves in a shocking 5-3 win over Canada in the last game of pool play for both teams. USA looked like a completely different team than they did in their wins against Switzerland and Norway. USA has, stunningly, gone undefeated in pool play and has earned a first round bye in the elimination round of the tournament. Pool C still has one game to play, and if Sweden wins by less than five goals, or if the game goes to overtime, USA will be the #1 overall seed.
Aside from the sharp goaltending in the third period, USA played very well defensively, matched Canada’s aggression in the first two periods, and they made few mistakes. And most importantly, they scored the game’s first goal just 41 seconds in. This took the partisan crowd out of the game early, and team Canada was on their heels for the majority of the game.
The biggest difference in USA’s game was that the defensemen were more passive in their offensive zone. In their first two games, they pinched too much, which turned quickly into odd-man rushes going the other way and even a shorthanded goal against Norway.
Meanwhile, Canada, who has said all along that the only thing that matters in these Olympic Games is that they win the men’s hockey gold, will have a difficult path just to make it to the medal round. No matter what happens with Sweden and Finland, Canada will be the sixth overall seed and will face Germany in the first elimination round. Then they’ll have to face probably Russia to get into the medal round. Hardly an easy road.
USA Will face the winner of Switzerland/Belarus to go to the medal round. I’ve been saying that any medal at all by the Americans would be a major victory, and suddenly it seems like it could be a reality.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.