Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

Well that was quite a turnaround from a few days ago. The wiser of us knew it was coming, or at least knew that it couldn't possibly continue this way. Could it? No apparently it couldn't, Canada throttled an easy opponent in Germany, and then pretty much handed the mighty Russians their balls in a lunch bag. And now Team Canada is back, and for real this time.

There was no way this crop of Canadian stars was going to phone this one in, and they jumped on the Russians early to prove that they meant business. They finally started playing like everyone expected them to play and better yet against an opponent that was considered a viable threat. Not yanking Nabokov earlier in the game was stupid, he looked more like Toskala. Putting Bryzgalov in after the 1st period might have allowed the Russian offense to get back in it, instead of waiting to give him mop up duty.

The Swiss had to be the most potentially dangerous underdog in this whole tourney, keeping the first game against the Americans respectable at 3-1, forcing the Canadians to a shootout, and once again holding the Americans off in more or less a one goal game in the quarterfinal.

The US looks much weaker now due to the score against the Swiss in those two games, after riding high on a win over the Canadians. Their road to the gold medal game was much less challenging than what it would take for the Canadians or Russians, for that matter. They'll now have to play an underrated Finnish team, whose only true test was a 3-0 loss to the Swedes.

The Finns are getting a ride on Kipusoff's back, and are once again going to need it against a gritty American team. Finland is a legitimate threat to the Americans, and you could easily see that game going either way.

Only the true prognosticators saw the Slovaks beating the Swedes, I can't believe it even as I type it. You could see the utter disbelief and more so disgust on the face of all those legendary Swedes. To me, this makes Canada's road to the gold medal game much more easier, but I guess you can't downplay the threat that the Slovaks present.

If I had to guess...

I see the Americans beating out the Finns by a two goal margin.

The Canadians blowing up Halak with a high scoring, three or four goal margin.

Canada beats the US when it actually counts for a proud host country gold medal. A two goal game, the other way this time.

Finland for the bronze in a one goal game over the Slovaks.

Success in this tournament depends heavily on solid goaltending. Hiller was huge for the Swiss, Halak has been ridiculous for the Slovaks, Miller for the Americans, Lundqvist for the Swedes (until tonight), Vokoun performed admirably for the Czechs, and Kipper for the Finns. Luongo still has yet to prove himself after Brodeur failed to.

At this point, which is pretty much back to where we were before the tournament started, its Canada's gold to lose.

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