Sunday, February 21, 2010

We Haven't Won Anything Yet

The game tonight was everything it was built up to be, and if you turned your head away to watch the small child in the center of room put something in her mouth that she wasn't supposed to, you would have missed an incredible amount of amazing hockey. It was an exhilarating experience to be screaming at the television and have that kind of passion for the teams involved as my heart raced as the seconds ticked.

But once again, Americans have to remind themselves... they haven't won anything yet.

Its true that Team USA outworked a more skilled, more talented Team Canada, but there's still a long way to go before we can start looking like idiots boasting about our new found, and more than likely, temporary nationalism, even though many of us already have started in. I can't imagine what Team Canada is thinking right now, surviving a shootout against Jonas Hiller and the Swiss, and losing to an overmatched American team, in their Olympic year, in their sport.

I can tell you that Ryan Miller is Team USA, everyone knew he had to be in order to have a chance to beat Marty Brodeur and the Canadians, and that's exactly what he did. Brodeur on the other hand has been less than spectacular, and may have seen his last action in the tournament unless Babcock succumbs to the pressure.

And its not that the Canadians didn't try to beat Miller, it was a god damn warm-up drill at times, but they persevered tonight, and right now tonight is as good as a week from now.

I can't remember that last time I've seen that caliber of hockey. I sure as shit don't remember the last Olympic games, and its been too long since the last postseason to really compare. But everyone elevated their game, they were all playing at a different level. Well most anyway...

I now firmly believe that this will be Scott Niedermayer's last year. His decision making and his tendency to be outworked by younger competition has never been more apparent that this season. Scott Niedermayer is my favorite player in the NHL, and I am sad to say that his time has come to an end. He still has the wheels, just not the overwhelming desire to win.

I have to believe that Paul Stastny is injured. When everyone else was playing out of their mind, he was ordinary, at times worse than ordinary. We all know he has the skill set, the hockey intelligence, not to mention the great bloodline, but he was not showing it tonight, whatsoever.

Patty Kane was too rattled to add anything significant to this game. He's got a great set of hands and wheels, but there were times when I was questioning his spot on this team. His inexperience was evident tonight, and you can only hope that he'll stop looking around and start shooting the puck in the next round.

On the other hand, Dustin Brown really impressed me tonight, and he hasn't done that in the past. I'm not just talking about his move around his Kings teammate Drew Doughty, I'm talking about his whole game and his love for the dirty areas.

Sidney Crosby is lights out. He is so hungry for the puck that he will outwork, and outmanuever anyone. The spotlight is rough, but he handles it well.

Brian Rafalski does not receive as much credit as he should for being a smart defenseman. He's been guilty of mistakes in his own zone, but his first pass, and his shot selection from the point is fantastic.

Drew Doughty is no doubt the better defenseman between him and Jack Johnson, and Jack had a better game than he usually does. Doughty does not panic, he is so cool with the puck that its scary to think about how good he'll become. The same goes for Duncan Keith, while he didn't have the greatest game he still moves the puck up the ice with great speed.

Chris Drury is often bashed for his lack of goal scoring for the Rangers considering the size of his contract, and those same fickle fans are tired of talking about the other things that he brings to the game, but that's truly what he does. There's no doubt that he's in the decline of his career when he was offered that ridiculous contract, but he's carved a niche for himself by bringing the little things, and offering his defensive responsibilities instead. He's honoring the contract the only way he can when he's a step behind the younger, faster guys around the League.

But in the end, it was Ryan Miller's win. He put it on his back, and he held off the greatest Canadian players in the game today. He had to be great and he was, and that's the only reason why Team USA won tonight. That and the relentless forechecking and never give up attitude of the Americans.

So while the Russians are talking about Ovechkin's hit on Jagr, Americans will be talking about this game for quite some time. And if its the only thing we win in this tournament of tournaments, it would be enough for me.

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