Tag:Men's Hockey
Posted on: February 24, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: February 24, 2010 11:48 am

Mid-Week Mini-Rants - All Olympic Edition

Last week in the rants, I asked NBC (nicely) to fix their prime time schedule to include more hockey and less live figure skating. My pleas were answered by putting the USA-Canada hockey game on MSNBC. That is a terrible job by NBC for several reasons. First, they have the national contract for the NHL and do a lousy job of that as it is. Next, MSNBC doesn't have HD in most areas, meaning one of the greatest HD sports to watch, was in standard definition. Lastly, MSNBC got high ratings (third highest rating in channel's history) and could have gotten a much higher rating in primetime on a major network. Hopefully the gold medal match for the men's and women's tournaments will be on NBC and in HD. 

Here in Trumbull, CT, our great sports history is tied to our high school, and a Little League World Series title in 1989. The winning pitcher of that LLWS for Trumbull: Chris Drury, New York Rangers captain and forward. Before the Olympics, many people criticized Team USA for picking Drury on the team. Now, after scoring two goals, one each against Canada and Norway, I just have one question for all of Drury's naysayers: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MY BOY NOW?!?! Jeremy Roenick was one of those naysayers and he ate his crow Monday on WFAN 660 NY. Here's the audio link. When you mess with The Bull, you get the horns.

My Monday entry on USA-Canada was featured on the CBSSPorts.com homepage. And for almost 24 hours, not one person commented on the entry. No Go USA, Down with Canada, nothing. Finally, in the 11th hour (literally, 11:14 am), Valleyfella saved me from a commeny shutout with a fantasic post defending his Canadian hockey team. Also, CBS columnists are following my entries with similar ones of their own. Freeman followed my Pro Bowl entry with a similar column, Dodd with USA Hockey in Vancouver and Parrish with the UConn-WVU game. I gotta go back to what I'm good at: bashing conferences that I don't like (SEC Football & ACC Basketball) so I don't make them look bad by posting my blog before their columns are posted on the site.

(Okay, I think Dodd beat me, but I beat Parrish by an hour and Freeman by a day.)

Here are my favorite highlights of the Olympics so far...

USA winning its first two Nordic medals. Canada throwing up the white flag to the USA's medal count. Bode Miller. Shaun White. Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso. Apolo Ohno and Shani Davis. Hockey. Curling.

And the lowlights...

NBC's primetime coverage, USA in curling (most underrated Winter Olympic sport and well, we sucked this year). Short-track speedskating zebras (officials) and rules (it should be perfectly legal to put someone into the wall in short-track). USA in Ski-cross.
Posted on: February 22, 2010 8:25 am
Edited on: February 22, 2010 10:05 am

V-V Day - Victory in Vancouver

That is name I'm coining for this Olympic tournament if the USA wins gold. V-V Day. But it's not over yet.

(And yes, I'm borrowing that name from Dennis Dodd. It's good. It reminds me of WWII's V-E Day for Victory in Europe. And let's face it, USA-Canada hockey is war.)

Even if the USA clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the quarterfinals thanks to a 3-0 win by Sweden over Finland, it's not over. No one is eliminated yet. The USA, Sweden, Russia and Finland all get a "bye" into the quarter-finals. Everyone else is seeded so that the 5th place team plays 12th, 6th plays 11th and so on. There will be no-reseeding for the quarterfinals as far as I know, meaning that the USA will play the winner of the "8-9" game, which is Switzerland-Belarus.

I'm going to come out and say it, Team Canada had all the pressure on it last night. They're the gold medal favorites. They're playing at home. They have the NHL's best keeper (Marty Brodeur) and one of it's best players (Sidney Crosby) who were down-right awful yesterday. Brodeur over-played the puck multiple times that led to scoring chances and goals. Crosby was non-existent for most of the game, even tipping in USA's first goal by Brian Rafalski. Yes, Crosby scored a late power-play goal to get the game to 4-3 USA, but he took a late penalty as well.

(To be fair, Crosby was held on the play. Zebras probably missed it.)

Speaking of Rafalski, how about his tournament so far? Four goals (as many as he's had this NHL season) in these Olympics, including the final two against Norway, the first against Canada 41 seconds in and another go-ahead goal 22 seconds after Canada tied it in the first period. Chris Drury (my boy from, Trumbull, CT) is not washed up. I don't care if he is the 13th forward on the roster, he's got two goals so far and he and Ryan Callahan of the Rangers have been killing penalties for the USA all tournament, and doing a fantastic job too. Local Vancouver Canuck now USA forward Ryan Kesler said before the game that he hates Team Canada. Then he went out and sealed the win out-hustling the Canadian defense for a fantastic empty net goal.

And while I watched the USA-Canada game, I noticed two things: Canada had a lot of lazy turnovers and the Americans played with nothing to lose. They're not supposed to be the No. 1 seed going into the knockout rounds. That was supposed to be Canada, who only tallied 5 pts with a win and shootout win over the Swiss and then lost to the USA.

Does this mean that the USA doesn't feel the pressure? Not at all. But they want to win just as badly as everyone else does. And obviously Canada is feeling the pressure more than Uncle Sam is. And Canada's road to the gold medal game just got a lot harder than Team USA's.

Either way, this tournament will be a success for the Americans and likely a failure for the Canadians. This is what expectations and perception will do to you in a tournament like this. Canada was expecting gold, the USA would have settled for a medal I think. Then the Canadians needed a shootout to beat Switzerland and the seed of doubt was planted in Team Canada. Team USA just helped it grow a lot more.

But this tournament isn't over until they hand out the medals. It's been 30 years since the "Miracle on Ice" and USA's last gold medal in hockey. But this wasn't a miracle. This Team USA can play with anybody. And they can play without the pressure of expectations on their shoulders. Unlike Team Canada.

That's a fine kettle of fish they've got themselves into, eh?
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com