Monday, February 22, 2010

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


So my predictions were a bit off.  And I couldn't be any happier.

The United States Men's Ice Hockey Team stunned an entire country with their 5-3 victory over Canada.  I'll keep it simple and point out my three keys to the game.

1.  GOALTENDING
Surprise surprise.  The team that got the better goaltending won the game.  Brodeur's ability to handle the puck was supposed to be an advantage for Canada especially without the trapezoid behind the net.  Brodeur's skill (or lack thereof) ended up being his downfall on Sunday.  He made three mistakes handling the puck that led directly to goals for the Americans.  ESPN's Pierre LeBrun thinks Brodeur's Olympics should be over.

On the other end, it was Miller Time for Team USA.  Ryan Miller was spectacular making 42 saves on the night.  USA wasn't great in front of him and Miller stood on his head for most of the game.  Miller showed a glimpse of why he's still the favorite for the Vezina this season.

2. PRESSURE
The pressure got to Canada.  The entire weight of a nation is on the shoulders of the 23 members of Team Canada to win Gold and it showed on Sunday.  They played tight and made uncharacteristic mistakes on both ends of the ice.  Team USA came out relaxed and it paid off just 41 seconds into the game with a goal.  Brian Rafalski's goal stunned the country and took the crowd out of the game early.

3.  VETERAN PLAY
Alot of analysts have chosen to make a big deal out of the American's inexperienced roster.  This was supposed to be a team in transition.  No more Leetch, Roenick, Chelios, Tkachuk or Modano.  With only captain Jamie Langenbrunner, forward Chris Drury and defenseman Brian Rafalski having Olympic experience; Team USA was supposed to struggle to even contend for a medal.  Well, the veteran trio combined for four of Team USA's five goals.  They know a little something about winning; the trio has also combined to win five Stanley Cups.

In contrast, the veterans for Canada showed their age.  Chris Pronger couldn't keep up with the speed of the young American forwards.  His physical play was absent.  Scott Niedermayer had some key turnovers, soft play along the boards and just looked a step behind the play.  The usually even-keeled captain for the Ducks' even showed some frustration running Jack Johnson into the boards with a late hit after the whistle to end the second period.  Canada's top offensive line of Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash and Mike Richards combined for a -8. 

WHAT'S IT ALL MEAN?
Nothing yet.  Although, the United States has earned the top-seed and an automatic bye into the quarterfinals.  Canada will have to play Germany just to advance.  Their path to the Gold will be tough; the Canadians will have to likely defeat both Russia and Sweden for a spot in the Gold Medal game.

P.S.- My predictions on the score may have been off but I called this one right before it happened.  Dustin Brown pulled off his trademark between the legs move on Drew Doughty.  And then DD recovered and poke-checked the puck off Brownie's stick.  It was a nice moment for Kings fans everywhere.

2 comments:

  1. It was both their trademarks moves... DB with his toe drag and DD with his diving wrap-around poke check. A banner day indeed for Kings fans.

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